Cole Patterson breaks down the New York Jets first round pick, safety Calvin Pryor. Click here for a look at our breakdown of third round pick Dexter McDougle and stay tuned for breakdowns of the rest of the Jets draft picks…
Was a three-star prospect coming out of Port St. Joe High School. Played in all thirteen games as a true freshman at Louisville and started the final seven. Started every game for the reminder of his career, save a one game suspension for breaking an unspecified team rule. He finished his career at Louisville with 218 tackles, eleven tackles for a loss, two sacks, nine forced fumbles (five coming in 2012 alone), and seven interceptions. Named second-team All-BIG EAST in 2012 after finishing second on the team with 100 tackles. Named first-team All-ACC in 2013.
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 207 lbs
- 40 Yard Dash: 4.58 sec
- Bench Press: 18 reps (highest of the 2014 safeties)
- Vertical: 34.5 in
- Broad Jump: 116 in
Versatility is Pryor’s best trait. At Louisville he excelled both in the box and playing center field. Contrary to his perceived limitations, Pryor spent the majority of his time as a freshman and sophomore playing as the deep defensive back. Only after he established himself as a playmaker in 2012 (with five forced fumbles) did the Louisville coaching staff start moving him around. He responded well to the shift and proved to be dominant anywhere on the field.
When playing close to the line of scrimmage Pryor easily navigates traffic and has a nose for the ball. He uses his short area quickness and physicality to blow by would-be blockers and annihilate the ball carrier.
Here Pryor creeps up into the box from playing deep. He then tracks the running back and threads through traffic to make the tackle.
To say “annihilate” is not hyperbole. Pryor is a virtual wrecking ball; a tempo setter in the secondary. Consider this GIF-Montage as proof:
Pryor has excellent range and explosive closing speed. This allows him to be a very effective center-fielder. He is consistently in a position to make a play on the ball because of his extraordinary pre-snap recognition and awareness.
Here Pryor starts centerfield in the end zone and zips across half the field to make an amazing one-handed play on the ball.
Pryor is very intelligent and has an outstanding football acumen. He directed the secondary at Louisville. Rex Ryan has praised Pryor’s ability to absorb not only the playbook but the greater defensive philosophy of the team: “[Pryor is] Smart, instinctive and is on top of it. It’s rare that it comes easy, and you can see it in there. The way he communicates, just everything. He has really been everything that we’ve wanted and then some.”
The main knock on Pryor is whether or not he can play the slot. Truthfully, he took so few snaps in man coverage that it is hard to evaluate his ability. This lack of experience, in and of itself, may explain his weakness in the area. He has the quickness and awareness to cover in the slot but it may take time to develop.
Pryor tends to be over aggressive. This could result in two issues at the next level: bad angles and penalties. He has such outstanding speed and hit power that he will over or under shoot his target on occasion.
Here Pryor comes downfield with a full head of steam and over pursues the running-back. He is able to recover and chase down the ball carrier, however.
Pryor uses his shoulder to make a lot of tackles. This technique is often penalized in the NFL as leading with the crown of the helmet.
Fit with the New York Jets
One thing that sticks out when scouring Pryor’s college tape is opposing quarterbacks’ hesitancy to put the ball in his area code. His playmaking ability and intimidating presence locked down entire sections of the field, which is a much needed addition to the Jets back end.