Home > Draft, NFL > Pryor to the Raiders Isn’t a Reach, but they’re still the Raiders

Pryor to the Raiders Isn’t a Reach, but they’re still the Raiders

Prior to Monday’s supplemental draft, the player most recently selected in the top three rounds of the supplemental draft was defensive end Jeremy Jarmon of Kentucky, selected by Vinny Cerrato and the Washington Redskins in the third round.  Jarmon was traded last month to the Denver Broncos for WR Jabar Gaffney.  He was traded at the age of 23.

In other words, the recent bar for throwing a third or fourth round pick in the supplemental draft away for a player isn’t very high.  So when you evaluate the decision by the Oakland Raiders to not pick in the third round next year and to take the embattled Pryor right now, consider that if you rephrase the question as “would you rather take Terrelle Pryor now, or have a random third rounder from next year’s draft,” it’d be tough to not think that the team is getting more value in Pryor.  Now, a lot of that depends on how Pryor is used, whether the Raiders really view him as a franchise quarterback, or a slash quarterback, or just a wide receiver or tight end.  The Raiders are not the organization I’d trust to make this pick pay off.  But since the question is not whether the Raiders should expect to win more games because of Terrelle Pryor this year or in the future, I’ll spare Oakland this criticism.

If your argument is “the Oakland Raiders reached to draft Terrelle Pryor”, your argument is going to need more than simply “well, I’m not really sure where he’s going to play.”  Antwaan Randle El was a rather successful second round pick of the Steelers in 2005.  Brad Smith was a fifth round pick of the Jets.  Seneca Wallace was a fourth round pick of the Seahawks.  None of those players became consistent starters (with the exception of Randle El for five seasons between 2005 and 2009), and all were worth their draft position.  Based on what we know about third round quarterbacks, Pryor does not need to ascend to the level of a starting quarterback to justify this pick.  He does need to look like he knows what he’s doing if and when he enters a game for the Raiders.

Was this a classic Al Davis pick?  Absolutely.  Did Davis get the Raiders into trouble in the last twenty years overvaluing the exact kind of player that Pryor is?  Well if you think he took Pryor as a pass-catcher, then yes, he has been down this road before.  Hey did you hear the Bengals traded for Taylor Mays yesterday?  Ha! That’s just the Bengals being the Bengals.  Don’t they know it’s a passing league now?!  Larry Johnson just signed with the Dolphins this morning.  Oh those crazy Dolphins!  They can’t tell a valuable offensive player from one who has been cooked for four years.  What an embarrassment.

Criticizing the Bengals and Dolphins is a case of deflecting the argument off the Raiders and Pryor, sure, but it’s designed to point out how little media coverage and blog commentary those moves have gotten relative to Pryor.  The Raiders spent a mid round draft pick on amateur talent, which is typically the use of those picks that nets the greatest expected return on investment.  The Bengals traded a pick to the 49ers for a guy who the 49ers simply don’t believe can play football, a pick the 49ers can theoretically use for ROI.  The Dolphins might as well be burning money in the fire, especially if Johnson makes their team.

Roughly 50% of players drafted in the third round of the NFL draft wash out before becoming starters.  It would not be shocking to see Pryor become another data point among players who have washed out.  That should actually be the expectation here, no different than expecting a Raider 3rd rounder such as CB Demarcus Van Dyke or OT Joe Barksdale to establish themselves as a starter.  Probability suggests that if the Raiders can get two starters out of Van Dyke, Barksdale, and Pryor, or just one star level player out of that group, the Raiders are ahead of the curve.  The Raiders franchise is in trouble if all of those players wash out.  Adding C Stefan Wisnewski and RB Taiwan Jones to that group, the Raiders have spent their 2011 and 2012 second and third rounders on those five players.  With Van Dyke the only defensive player added with those rounds (and a 4th rounder the Raiders spent on Pryor’s college teammate, CB Chimdi Chekwa).  The Raiders have cost themselves valuable flexibility to address their needs that will become apparent during this season.  They’ll have one pick in the 2012 draft in the first four rounds, and there is a good chance they might use it on a quarterback with Pryor the only guy under contract for 2012.  That would be an inefficient allocation of resources.

Still, the Pryor pick shows the Raiders like where they are positioned right now in the AFC, and are willing to think about the future of their offense (beyond 2012) against adding more talent to what Hue Jackson and Al Saunders have on offense.  There’s a good chance that this pick represents unfounded hubris.  If so, it wouldn’t be the first time.  But this pick is hardly a reach.  It’s really one of the better supplemental draft picks made in recent memory.  Which is also why you never see good organizations pick players in the supplemental draft.  It’s a sellers’ market with 5 players and 32 teams, and you always need to take players ahead of where you would get them in April.  That describes what the Raiders did here.  Reach?  That’s an inaccurate term.

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