USA TODAY Sports
With the Raiders getting a new offensive coordinator this season, everyone wants to know what he thinks of Terrelle Pryor and what his plans are for the young quarterback. He had the audience of a group of reporters today eager to find out. He obliged.
With the mobile quarterback trend upon us in the NFL, the Raiders' version is getting more attention than ever before. He was already seen as the great hope for the Raiders at the quarterback position among many fans. And see the success of other mobile quarterbacks has strengthened that feeling.
One such quarterback who Pryor has drawn comparisons is Colin Kaepernick. Mainly because he is the hottest name out there. Olson responded to the comparison.
"We'd like to find that out," said Olson of Pryor. "What's different about Kaepernick is certainly that they feel great about him in all areas of the game. They feel great about him as a passer. So he's a guy that plays full time. It's not as if they bring him in for a package or a play or two... If you have a guy that can stay there and play 65 plays a game and do those things and also be able to throw the ball from point A to point B accurately, if he possesses those skills as well, then you certainly have something. So that's what we'll have to find out with Terrelle Pryor. We know what kind of an athlete he is. We need to find out what kind of decision maker he is, and we need to find out if he's a guy that can also sit in the pocket and deliver the ball from point A to point B accurately and on time and making the right decisions. That above all else becomes most important. Can he make good decisions and is he accurate as a passer?"
Prior to Kaepernick's emergence, the same comparisons were being drawn to Cam Newton in 2011 when he was the hot commodity and then Russell Wilson early in the 2012 season before Kaepernick got his first start midway through the 2012 season.
These comparisons have brought up the questions about whether the Raiders should give Pryor the chance to start to see if he can have similar success to the likes of Kaepernick, Wilson, and Newton. Olson addressed that.
"Right now, where we stand at the quarterback position, certainly we've got a veteran player in Carson Palmer that really has a unique set of skills himself, much different than Terrelle Pryor's, certainly. We'll go through, and we'll let those two compete. We obviously like the ceiling of Terrelle Pryor and where we think he can get to... we know what Carson Palmer is. He's played in the league a number of years. We know what he can do. We don't really quite yet know what Terrelle Pryor can do at this level but we have a pretty good feeling for what he is athletically, so there will be packages for both of them and we'll allow them to compete and we'll just be ready in either direction... you've got to be ready to tailor your offense to whoever that player might be that's pulling the trigger. We'll certainly have a package for Terrelle Pryor and we'll be ready to go in that direction if that's the direction that we see fit."
"I know Reggie's made the statement that there will always be competition. I think there has to be competition at every position. I don't ever think you hand anyone a position from season to season or year to year. Excited about Carson Palmer. Certainly, again, he's a guy that's got experience and experience at playing at a high level in the National Football League."
Even with the words "open competition" being thrown around, Pryor starting for this team as long as Palmer is still on it is a long shot. Dennis Allen said last season that Pryor was not ready. He ended up starting him in the final game of the season but that was to get him some game experience.
According to Olson, he saw some good things in the game from Pryor, as we all did. But he also saw a lot of room for improvement.
"I think it's too early to say what he's going to be based on that limited playing time that he's had. You can see the athletic ability in him. I'd say he's raw. I'd still say he's developing."
Still, being a starter or a backup is not the only option for Pryor. The most likely scenario involves instituting him in packages. McKenzie has said he could see Pryor being utilized in red zone and third down packages which would utilize his mobility. Olson agrees with that.
"I just think you have to have a package," said Olson. "certainly have seen him in college, and he was an explosive player in college, and I know that... he did a lot of good things in college at Ohio State. But again, it's a different game. There's a lot of players that played very well in college that never have been able to make the transition to the professional game."
There is no question in Olson's, Allen's, McKenzie's or most people's mind that Pryor is a weapon. The question is how to deploy that weapon. Olson sums it up best with this statement about the polarizing young quarterback.
"I just think it's important that as a coach you're willing to adapt and be flexible and be able and try to put a player like him, that may be an explosive player, on the field for you."