Feature Image: Associated Press
The time from now until training camp can be filled with a mix of vacations and training regiments for players and personnel, but for hardcore NFL fans it’s more of a time filled with vodka and despair.
We’ll be counting down to the July 23rd, report-to-Cortland date, by featuring current players with roster numbers that correspond with the number of days left. For days without a corresponding player, we’ll be featuring other players and maybe some surprises.
25 Days = #25 Calvin Pryor
BOOM! What was that? It was probably the sound of hard-hitting safety Calvin Pryor, knocking down an opposing ballcarrier.
The New York Jets added the Louisville product in the first round of this year’s draft.
As with all draftees, he will undoubtedly be compared with the other possible selections on the board at the time of the pick: WR Brandin Cooks, fellow safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (who was the better safety according to some), CB Darqueze Dennard, and even a guy like QB Johnny Manziel.
However, regardless of whether he was a fan GM’s pick or not, the New York Jets front office was said to be ‘thrilled’ that he was still up-for-grabs, and the Jets fans at Radio City seemed to agree with the move.
Any why not? The Jets needed an upgrade in the secondary — arguably more at corner — and they found a player who has already made an impression in the offseason for his vocal leadership and playbook acumen.
What does he bring to the table?
“[Pryor] is maybe the most fearless defensive back I saw on tape this year. He flies around the field and makes plays. I think he’s a little better on the back end than he gets credit for.” – Mike Mayock, NFL Network
Pryor is the quarterback on the defensive side of the ball, and perhaps that vocal spark-creator that has been missing since linebacker Bart Scott‘s exit after the 2012-13 season. He’s not afraid to bark at opposing receivers, but will back up the trash talk with ferocious hits — that perhaps instills some fear, and changes game plans.
As Mayock stated following the Jets’ selection, he has not always received the kind of respect he deserves for his coverage skills as he’s earned. But a lot of that is due to the highlight-reel hits overshadowing his solid fundamentals.
Pryor is also an excellent tackler, best demonstrated by his 218 total tackles in three years with Louisville, averaging 73 per season. His high of 100 tackles in 2012 — if maintained into the NFL — would’ve tied Jets safety Dawan Landry‘s total in 2013. I personally believe Pryor will be allowed to move around the field a lot more than Landry did, last season, so it is all that more impressive. In the box, safeties can inflate their numbers with running back tackles. Outside the box, they become more of oversized cornerbacks.
Pryor figures to start out of the gate, receiving high praise from both Rex Ryan and teammates in the OTAs and Mini-Camp. While earning DROY as a defensive back can be an uphill battle, Pryor’s offseason showings have placed him in the way-too-early discussions. According to Sportsbook.ag, Pryor is tied for the 11th best odds among defensive rookies to win DROY.
Can the Jets repeat? It seems improbable. However, if Pryor can at least have a successful transition into the NFL, Gang Green will be more than happy with their pick.