Terrelle Pryor’s future as an NFL quarterback isn’t clear. Far less clear is his present.
Two days away from the annual supplemental draft, the NFL has yet to give Pryor, shown working out in his hometown of Jeannette, Pennsylvania on Friday, an answer as to whether he’ll be eligible. Even if he gets in right now, he’ll be at a significant disadvantage, since he’ll have roughly 48 hours to organize and conduct a workout for teams who may be interested in him.
That fact alone puts the NFL squarely in the wrong for, by all appearances, tiptoeing on eggshells for the curators of the free farm system known as college football. The league seems to believe it has an obligation to assist the NCAA with its grossly selective and horribly inefficient enforcement system. In this specific case, the league can help the NCAA by keeping Pryor out of the NFL for 2011, giving teeth to the suspension that inevitably would have been imposed if he hadn’t left Ohio State.
But that’s not the league’s job, and it definitely doesn’t mesh with the concerns the NFL has been floating. The league seems to be searching for an excuse to keep Pryor out based not on the classic reasons for inclusion in the supplemental draft (i.e., loss of eligibility after the deadline for entering the April draft) by painting his decision to leave Ohio State as an effort to engineer his entry into the supplemental draft, when the evidence suggests otherwise.
As we’ve heard it, Pryor has proven to the league that, one way or the other, he wouldn’t have been playing college football in 2011. Either the NCAA would be suspending him, or Ohio State would be shutting him down on its own. And that quit-or-be-fired vibe emerged, we’re told, after Pryor met with the NCAA in May and answered questions in a way that significantly undermined his ongoing eligibility.
At that point, folks at Ohio State began to suggest that Pryor should leave. After Jim Tressel resigned and Luke Fickell was appointed to take over, we’re told that Fickell wouldn’t return Pryor’s calls.
But the NFL still seems to be trying to fit the square peg of reality into the round hole of the NCAA’s agenda. It’s wrong, and the fact that the NFL has yet to issue a decision suggests that the NFL knows it’s wrong.
The NFL needs to do the right thing right now, and let Pryor into the draft. If he’s good enough to get drafted, and if (as we’re hearing) Jon Gruden is privately expressing a belief that Pryor may be better than Cam Newton, then Pryor will get drafted, even without a Pro Day workout and with NFL teams trying to slap together a season on the fly.
Either way, the kid should have a chance to enter the NFL now. The league’s rules contemplate that outcome, even if the league’s politics don’t.