Terrelle Pryor Has an Immense Opportunity in Washington
With the Kirk Cousins contract saga continuing to drag on, the team's two starting wide receivers opting to sign elsewhere last week, and general manager Scot McCloughan fired amid allegations that his drinking remains an issue, it's been a difficult few weeks for the Redskins.
Yet, as the team looks to replace the production they just lost in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, the Redskins have brought in one of the most intriguing wide receivers to hit the free agent market this year, signing Pryor to a one-year, $8 million contract.
After just his first full season playing receiver, the 27-year-old former quarterback was unable to land a multi-year deal but now finds himself in a one year "prove-it situation" with the Redskins.
Pryor is Still Developing
In an interview on the Redskins' team website, Pryor acknowledged that he's still learning how to play wide receiver.
Originally drafted as a quarterback in the NFL's supplemental draft by the Oakland Raiders in 2011, Pryor had mixed results as quarterback. He was released by the team in 2014 and spent time with a few teams before landing with the Browns.
Just two years ago, Pryor chose to move to receiver full time. He played in only three games as a receiver in 2015, catching just one pass, but in 2016, Pryor played in all 16 games, putting forth an impressive performance.
He posted a 1,000-yard season, leading the Browns with 77 receptions for 1,007 yards and 4 touchdowns. Among all wide receivers, Pryor ranked 20th in receiving yards and 21st in receptions. His 140 targets were 12th-most in the league.
By using our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, the metric we use to measure efficiency of both teams and players, we see that Pryor was one of the most impactful receivers in the league.
Among all receivers in 2016, Pryor ranked ninth in Reception NEP, adding 95.88 points to his team's total. Pryor ranked right behind Michael Crabtree (96.25) and ahead of the former Redskin Garcon (95.23).
Pryor's production is even more impressive when you consider he caught a pass from five different quarterbacks in 2016 -- Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Charlie Whitehurst, Kevin Hogan, and Cody Kessler. Overall, the Browns' passing game ranked 26th in our Adjusted Passing NEP per play metric.
From Cleveland to Washington
It's important to note that, as Pryor continues to develop as a receiver, he will now be moving from one of the worst passing games in the league to one of the best in the Redskins. Last season, the Redskins' passing game ranked as the fifth-best in the NFL by Adjusted Passing NEP per play. In 2015, the team ranked fourth by this measure.
In Jay Gruden's three years as head coach, the Washington passing game has never ranked worse than 11th in passing yards per game. Just this past season, the Redskins ranked second in passing yards per game (297.4) -- behind only the New Orleans Saints (317.1) -- and they ranked seventh in pass attempts per game.
Washington represents a prime landing sport for Pryor after Jackson and Garcon left, signing with Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers, respectively. With Jackson and Garcon now out of the picture, Pryor steps in as a presumed starter opposite Jamison Crowder.
Opportunity, Opportunity, Opportunity
The opportunity in Washington is immense for Pryor, as Garcon and Jackson combined for 216 targets last season, one-third of all of Cousins' attempts.
Garcon led the Redskins in receiving last year with 79 receptions for 1,041 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Crowder emerged last year, ranking third on the team in targets (97) and second in receptions (67). He actually led the team in touchdowns with seven.
If we compare Pryor's 2016 production with that of the Redskins' receivers, they're pretty similar despite the gap in quarterback play.
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Pryor's per-target efficiency is lacking compared to this group, but it is important to note that per-target Reception NEP is influenced by a receiver's quarterback play and that Cousins was much better than what Pryor had in Cleveland.
Cousins ranked fifth among the 34 quarterbacks to drop back at least 200 times last season in Passing NEP per drop back (0.24). Kessler, whom Pryor played with for the majority of 2016, ranked 18th (0.14) in that same metric, around the league average of 0.12.
While Crowder was a reliable producer for Cousins last year, Josh Doctson was anything but. The rookie first round draft pick struggled to stay on the field. After suffering an Achilles injury in the summer, Doctson was affected throughout the season and was placed on injured reserved in October. Doctson played in only two games, catching 2 passes for 66 yards.
At the moment, Doctson is reportedly "on track for a return during OTAs." But even if Doctson can stay injury free, he remains an unknown commodity.
Free agency created a gaping hole in the Redskins' wide receiver corps, and Pryor has stepped into a situation flush with opportunity.
While he is still developing as a receiver, he'll have the opportunity to play with a much better quarterback than he did last year and in an offense that has proven to be productive in recent years.
Pryor's continued development and building a rapport with Cousins could lead to big things for the receiver in 2017 and -- perhaps -- a bigger payday come free agency next year.