Terrelle Pryor tops Making the Leap list for Week 6


The goal of our weekly "Making the Leap" watch is to highlight part-time players making the leap to difference-makers or unproven young talents ascending to key contributors. Once players have truly made the leap, they will graduate from this running list.

Our first four graduates are Harrison Smith, Jordan Cameron, Cameron Jordan and Jurrell Casey, all of whom have established themselves as Pro Bowl-caliber players. They've made the leap.

Previous lists: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 prospects for Week 6:

1. Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders quarterback

2. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos tight end

It's hard to a recall a player who has improved more than Pryor over a six-week span. Defenses are having difficulty adjusting to such an athletic running threat that keeps his eyes downfield and making pass rushers pay with better than advertised improvisational skills as a passer. If Pryor's sandlot style continues to put defenses in a bind, the Raiders will have to start viewing him as the quarterback of the future.

3. Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets defensive end

4. Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys center

Two rookies dominating the trenches. We've outlined Damon "Big Snacks" Harrison's brilliance as an elite run-stuffer. Richardson has been nearly as dominant versus the run while adding a pass-rushing element as a book-end to franchise cornerstone Muhammad Wilkerson.

The Cowboys offensive line is wildly outpacing expectations, currently holding the No. 3 spot in Pro Football Focus' grades. Frederick has been among the league's most effective run blockers over the past three weeks.

5. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears wide receiver

6. Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders wide receiver

7. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers wide receiver

8. Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver

Jeffery entered Thursday's game fourth among all receivers in yards from scrimmage, which led the Giants to send double teams his way on several occasions. Teammate Brandon Marshall believes Jeffery has the potential to become the best receiver in franchise history.

Moore is finally making good on his potential as a poor man's Mike Wallace. Only seven receivers have more yards over the past three weeks.

Allen has looked like a third-round steal over the past two weeks, showing signs that he can win with physicality at the point of the catch and still make plays down the field.

Blackmon followed up an impressive preseason with 136 yards a touchdown in his season debut.

9. Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints safety

10. Marcus Cooper, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback

It's rare to see a rookie safety take on as much responsibility as Vaccaro has, lining up as a deep safety, an in-the-box safety, a nickel back in the slot, a cornerback on the outside, an inside linebacker and an outside linebacker in Rob Ryan's defense. The first-round draft pick is one of the primary reasons the Saints are arguably the most complete team in the NFL this season.

Two picks away from being this year's Mr. Irrelevant, Cooper was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers in early September. After showing impressive cover skills over the first four games, he intercepted a pass and recovered a block punt in the end zone for a touchdown at Tennessee in Week 5. "He can be as good as he wants to be. He has a lot of ceiling," general manager John Dorsey said earlier this week. "He can turn and track the vertical throws and catch the ball. He's got ideal length ... that's the ideal press corner."

Cold list: Christian Ponder, Tavon Austin, Lamar Miller, Riley Cooper, Mike Adams, Eric Fisher, Lamar Holmes, Peter Konz, Gino Gradkowski, Montee Ball, Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Bruce Carter

Watch list: Ryan Tannehill, Geno Smith, Kiko Alonso, Alterraun Verner, Junior Galette, Donatari Poe, Star Lotulelei, Kawann Short, Ezekiel Ansah, Tyrann Mathieu, Giovani Bernard, Robert Woods, DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, Vincent Brown, Eddie Lacy, Le'Veon Bell, Andre Ellington, Kyle Long, Cordy Glenn, Larry Warford, Michael Brockers, Zach Brown, DeMario Davis, Barkevious Mingo, Nick Perry, Eric Reid, John Cyprien, Buster Skrine, Prince Amukamara

Trainer's room: David Wilson, Shane Vereen, Jake Locker, EJ Manuel, Dwayne Allen, T.J. McDonald