Jay Gruden: Terrelle Pryor already is “one of the top guys in the league”


In Washington, the top two receivers left via free agency, and the top free-agent acquisition at receiver is a former quarterback. But coach Jay Gruden realizes that Terrelle Pryor could eventually be one of the league’s best receivers.

Actually, Gruden seems to think Pryor already is.

“I think had he made this decision sooner in his career, I think he’d be further along,” Gruden told reporters on Monday. “But being that he just made it not too long ago, he’s where he is. I mean, he’s still one of the top guys in the league and he just started playing. He’s a physical freak. So we’re excited to have him and we’re going to continue to work with him. We just have to keep working. Kirk [Cousins] and Terrelle just have to get together so they get on the same page, get to know each other not only on the field but off the field.”

Gruden explained that Pryor’s background as a quarterback aided his transition.

“His ability to retain and pick up information in a hurry, really,” Gruden said when asked to identify how playing quarterback helped Pryor the most. “He’s picked up the system effortlessly. He asks good questions, has great logic when he is asking questions, wants to add more stuff for himself, like most quarterbacks would do. He’s been outstanding really. I just like the fact that he’s a very bright guy, understands coverages, understands where the ball should go and route concepts, which is very big. He is a very smart receiver, now it’s just about polishing up the little things and the details of each route and we’re working with him on that.”

Work has been the key word for Pryor, who separately made it clear that his current situation is the result of a lot of elbow grease.

“It wasn’t easy,” Pryor told reporters. “You guys see me as this big, 6-5, fast guy running out there, running past people, who’s so big and stuff like that. It may seem like it was easy, but I’ve spent – even from when I was with the Browns I transferred over and I got released from Cincinnati in 2015, I got picked up by the Browns and I only had a month to really train before I really even had the opportunity to go into camp and be ready for wideout, never playing it [the position] in my life. Countless hours. . . .

“I mean, countless hours. I’m talking about three hours. Tim Cortazzo, my trainer, he spent three, four hours a day, not just outside running routes but also going indoors running around cones because I really didn’t know how to handle my body, I didn’t know how to adjust my body, I didn’t know how to take control of myself. Now I’m at the point where I can control my body, I know where I’m going, I know what I want to do to the defender, I know how to stare at the guy in his eyes and make him think that I’m doing something else and then try to do something else. That’s what I continue to get better at, stuff like that.”

With Pryor, the question continues to be finding his ceiling and reaching it. Last year, a raw receiver catching passes from a revolving door of factory of sadness shift supervisors still generated more than 1,000 yards. With more time to develop and a 4,900-yard quarterback throwing the ball this year, Pryor could indeed emerge as one of the finest receivers in the game.