One of the story lines that could be interesting to follow during training camp is that of former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor. After Pryor was released from the Raiders, Seahawks and most recently the Bengals as a quarterback, the Browns signed him as a wide receiver.
In his post-quarterback career, the Browns are starting Pryor out at wide receiver, but Pryor’s best position might eventually be at tight end.
When the Browns drafted Jordan Cameron in 2011, then GM Tom Heckert said it was on potential. The former basketball player was very athletic but hadn’t done much on the football field to warrant a fourth-round draft pick. Cameron caught just six passes for 33 yards his rookie season and then had 20 receptions for 226 yards in year two.
Cameron’s breakout season was in his third season, 2013 when he caught 80 passes for 917 yards, including seven touchdowns, which led to a Pro Bowl selection. Last season, Cameron’s production dropped off to 24 catches for 424 yards, primarily due to injuries to his shoulder and concussions. Cameron averaged 12.3 yards per catch during his time with the Browns.
Cameron (6-5, 249) and Pryor (6-4, 233) have similar size, but we would propose that Pryor has more athleticism, speed and upside potential. Pryor was heralded as one of the best athletes to come out of the state of Pennsylvania and was a standout basketball player. Granted, a big question is can Pryor consistently catch the football—a basic necessity for a receiver, whether it will be on the outside or at tight end. Recently, Pryor said he was timed in the 4.34 range in the 40-yard dash.
Pryor, 26, spent time recently working with former NFL great Randy Moss at his academy, as well as Browns quarterback Josh McCown in recently trying to make up for lost time.
"I could actually be a little physical (as a receiver),'' Pryor said on BuckeyeXtra971 last week. "I'm hearing it from guys like Randy saying 'the sky's the limit' or Josh Gordon saying 'you'll be good.' You have little butterflies and I just can't wait because they kind of see where I'm at and how good I can be and it's time to go out there and show the coaches exactly what I showed those guys.
"For them to keep on wanting to work with me and continuing to work with me every single day, three, four times a week, that's my main thing, just go in and have fun and show my athletic ability and that's all I can really do.''
Basketball players are known for their athleticism and there are many converted great athletes that have made the transition to tight end at the NFL level. Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, Cameron are just a few examples. However, not that many big time players at wide receiver come to mind after being converted from another sport or position.
Presently, the Browns most logical pass-catching tight end is Rob Housler, who they signed as an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. However, Housler had just nine catches last season after having 39- and 45-rececptions in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge are considered more as blocking tight ends.
The Browns drafted Randall Telfer in the sixth-round, but he was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list last week. Undrafted free agent rookie E.J. Bibbs from Iowa State is considered to have potential, but only time will tell.
If the Browns take the time to develop Pryor, he could create mismatches coming out of the tight end slot in the seam. Cameron and most of the aforementioned tight ends were not known for their blocking abilities and it is assumed that Pryor isn’t going to be known for his blocking either.
"I believe in my God-given ability,'' Pryor said in the radio interview. "I also believe that I can play quarterback and I also believe I can play receiver at a high leveI ... I pray to the Lord every single day and I believe that the blessings he gave me athletically I'm going to use them full-strength and I believe I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
“The way I work, there's nothing (else) that you can tell me,” he said. “Are there going to be little things I need to get better at? Yeah. I'm a human just like everybody else. But I work my butt off. That's what gives me my confidence, the way I work. I just believe I can do it.''
Whatever happens, Pryor’s athleticism could make him a very interesting project--whether he is used at wide receiver or tight end.