Oakland Raiders: Terrelle Pryor Reaches Out to Former Raider MVP Rich Gannon
John Doublin – Jun 14, 2012
The late, great Al Davis' last ever draft pick, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, is proving every day that he wants to be much more than a gimmick or a "spread option" player—he wants to be an NFL quarterback.
To reach his goal of trying to avoid being "another Al Davis bust at quarterback," Pryor is doing something some have done before, but many didn't expect from him—he's asked to work with former Raiders' quarterback, and 2002 NFL MVP, Rich Gannon.
Much like Colt McCoy reached out to Bret Favre and Cam Newton sought counsel from Drew Brees, Pryor will attempt to pick the brain of one of the most efficient quarterbacks to ever play the game.
After discovering that Gannon's return e-mail had been sent to his spam folder, Pryor apparently sent a text to Gannon with an apology for missing the e-mail and to tell him that once he returned to Pittsburgh for the break between mandatory mini camp and the official start of training camp, he would contact the former Raider.
At first thought, many fans may ask themselves, "these are two totally different types of players, why try to learn from Gannon?"
The answer to that is: No, they are not very different at all. Go back in time and consider where Gannon went to school, the type of offense they ran and what was on his scouting report coming into the 1987 draft.
Gannon went to Division-II Deleware and ran almost an option offense. He was considered a "running quarterback" coming out of college.
Like Pryor, Gannon was over-looked by scouts because of his lack of experience in a "pro-style" offense. Most considered him more of an athlete than an actual quarterback—some even asked him to move to safety! He too had to learn the NFL game when he was selected in the 4th round by the Minnesota Vikings.
There were growing pains, bad decisions and a rough start to Gannon's career.
However, after coming to Oakland as a "Cast-off" from the Kansas City Chiefs, Gannon stepped into the 1999, Gruden-led Raiders' offense and made the Pro Bowl in his first year as the Raiders' starter.
Gannon went on to make four consecutive Pro Bowls for the Silver and Black, including two All-Pro selections, (2000, 2002) the 2002 NFL MVP award and a berth in Super Bowl XXXVII.
In his six years with the Raiders, Gannon averaged a completion percentage of 62.6%, 2,931 yards, 19 touchdowns, only eight interceptions and went 45 and 29.
Not bad for a "running quarterback" from a Division-II school!
How can this help Pryor?
Knowing that there is someone that was looked at the same way you are, but managed to get through it and have great success gives a player hope that he can get there himself. It gives him confidence, and that counts for a lot more than most people would think.
Having been a similar player, Gannon will understand where Pryor is, what stands in his way and how to coach him past those obsticles. He'll know what to say and how to say it to ensure that it gets though to the young man.
In the mind of many, there is no better mentor for Pryor to choose than a guy that had to over-come the same naysayers, the same preconceived notions and the same pitfalls of being labeled a "running quarterback."
Gannon confirmed that he will be working with Pryor to Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune saying:
"It's not like all of a sudden he's going to come out, work with me for a day and throw for 5,000 yards. That's not how it works. But I'm always anxious to go out and work with someone who wants to get better, whether it's a guy who plays for the Raiders, the Jets, or whoever."
Gannon also had some great things to say about Pryor; things you like to hear about a young, professional athlete; things that are often far too rare in this day and age.
"He's in a tough spot. The guy that hand-picked him is no longer around. They brought in Leinart. Just as he's getting used to one playbook, they hand him another one. I've talked to (Jon) Gruden about (Pryor). He wants to do the work. Wants to get better. Those are the guys you can't say no to."
Perhaps the one aspect Pryor needs to work on most is getting through all of his reads faster and delivering the ball on time. While he was in college, Pryor's reads were: Look for the first guy, if he's not open, run! When you're most often the best athlete on the field, that's a winning strategy, but that won't fly in the NFL.
After praising Pryor's desire to work and get better, head coach Dennis Allen had this to say:
"They’ve got to go through the progression, and I think for him, being a real athletic quarterback coming out of Ohio State, sometimes you’ll rely on your athleticism and maybe not so much the fundamentals and the technique and the progressions. He’s been working real hard on getting that stuff down and he’s done a nice job."
The good news is, Pryor knows this and has shown that he is willing to put in the time and effort to improve this part of his game. Gannon was one of the best at making all of his reads quickly and delivering the ball on time, with accuracy. Gannon really is the perfect choice from whom Pryor can learn.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter how much coaching or tutelage Pryor gets or where he gets it, he needs to understand what is expected from an NFL quarterback and what it takes to make that happen. Judging from his comments, he gets it just fine.
"Obviously I’m an athlete so I always think I can outrun anybody…(but) sometimes you have to get the ball into other guys’ hands and just try to be the point guard. That’s all I’m trying to do, stay in the pocket and get it to the right guys. Sometime the play may break (down). Obviously you can do it right now because you can’t get hit. If something breaks down, I can get out and make a play. I just try to stay in the pocket and go through my progressions and do what the coaches want."
Regardless of how you felt about Pryor when Mr. Davis used a 3rd round pick to select him in the 2011 supplemental draft, you must admit—he's saying the right things, and more importantly, doing the right things. Only time will tell if it will translate into a great NFL career like it did for his new mentor, Rich Gannon.
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