Terrelle Pryor has yet to chose an agent or file for the NFL supplemental draft. And, if I were representing the former Ohio State quarterback, my advice to him would be simple: Forget about the NFL, at least for 2011.
Pryor is walking into the vortex of the spring/summer of uncertainty in the NFL, a time where, outside of April's draft, you really can't bank on anything. In many ways there could be perhaps no worse time for a 21-year-old, slightly-tarnished developmental quarterback in need of prolonged teaching and instruction to be embarking on an NFL career, especially when teams I speak to have just a fifth-round grade on him at best.
Pryor says no to CFL
There isn't much to lose by plying one's trade elsewhere for a year or two -- not monetarily, not in terms of hands-on teaching time and certainly not in terms of future earning potential, given that the young man doesn't even turn 22 until later this month. And the NFL that would await a fifth-round supplemental pick come training camp -- whenever that actually starts, and assuming in fact that a legal battle over the very idea of a supplemental draft during a lockout doesn't postpone the event itself indefinitely -- would not be very advantageous to cultivating project quarterbacks.
Indeed, if Pryor is determined to be a pro quarterback, and not a receiver or a "slash" or some hybrid of the sort -- then the UFL or CFL provide the best options. The money would be about the same, he would be a higher short-term priority there and the coaching can be plenty good as well (especially if, say, you were to land with Marty Schottenheimer's staff on the UFL's Virginia Destroyers).
I know that's the thinking of at least one agent who has had conversations with Pryor (the agent came away pleasantly surprised with Pryor's attitude and character, by the way, and believes a normal pre-draft interview and workout program would actually boost Pryor's stock).
And it's sound logic.
So many teams already found their young starter or developmental guy in the draft, or they have their eye on a un-drafted kid, likely older, more experienced and mature than Pryor, and a prospect who wouldn't cost them a draft pick. Many NFL teams are essentially putting their coaches and football operations staffs on vacation the rest of the month.
As I mentioned, the exact timing of the supplemental draft, and whether or not there would be injunctions against it, is a subject of debate. The Brady v. the NFL case -- the players' antitrust suit against the league -- already claims the draft, free agency, and franchise tags are illegal; at the time of its filing, no one had yet applied for the supplemental draft but it would be only natural for the players' council to object to that as well given its opposition to the NFL draft itself.
The one potential Pryor agent wondered if the quarterback would then be asked to be a part of Brady v. NFL? Could the NFL Players Association file a brief against the supplemental draft even without Pryor's consent? And would Pryor's best interests be served by any of that?
For a kid already with so much to juggle and already caught up in maelstrom in Columbus, Ohio, entering the NFL in the middle of another controversy would be less than ideal.
Furthermore, would Pryor, at a time when all other players are locked out, be able to spend hours talking to coaches and general managers and have private workouts for teams? Because all of that would be essential and imperative for all parties given this unique situation.
If you're looking at a potential 1-3 round pick -- maybe. But for a kid with a fifth-round grade, and for one as raw as Pryor, I say it's not worth the risk, not with options like the UFL and CFL there.
NFL teams could be trying to sign draft picks, fill out rosters, reschedule preseason games, tender players and conduct shortened training camps all at once. Teaching the playbook to a fifth-round supplemental draft pick and getting him meaningful reps isn't going to be a priority. Not close.
In the CFL or UFL, he is a much more prized asset. The money would be about the same. The chance to put up quality game film in a true pro environment? Priceless. In the CFL, he would likely end up spending at least two years in the league given the nature of their contracts; in the UFL his deal could be up by November. Maybe someone squats on his draft rights next April, in this hypothetical. Or, who knows, maybe Pryor ends up joining the NFL as a free agent down the road and gets to pick his team.
Time will tell, but in the short term I'd have Pryor give Warren Moon and Joe Theismann a call and ask them how the CFL worked out for them. I'd maybe give Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake a call as well. Especially at a time like this, those are the more viable alternatives for this particular player.