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How complete of a receiver is Terrelle Pryor? Breaking down Pryor’s numbers by route type

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How did the first-year receiver put up four digits in Cleveland?

New York Jets v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Over the last few days, I’ve broken down the numbers of promising young Jets receivers Quincy Enunwa (see his breakdown here) and Robby Anderson (see his breakdown here). Today, we keep things rolling with a look at a new addition to the Jets wide receiver corps: Terrelle Pryor. For the purposes of this study, I focused solely on his 2016 season in Cleveland, where Pryor impressively posted 1,007 yards in his first season as an NFL wide receiver playing for a team that fielded five quarterbacks to throw 20+ passes. How did Pryor do it, and what does his ceiling look like going forward? Let’s dive right in!

Firstly, a synopsis of the route types I broke down. I went with a relatively simple group of categories, and I know some routes have a variety of different names. For the purpose of this study, here are the labels I went with:

Let’s first take a glance at the routes Pryor saw the most targets on. He officially tallied 140 in the 2016 season, but after removing blatant throwaways, I brought his total down to 128. Here is a look at his target breakdown:

The Browns absolutely loved to feature Pryor on comebacks and curls especially, while also heavily favoring routes working him towards the middle of the field. He also saw a heavy diet of targets on the go route, but as we’ll learn later on, it wasn’t exactly a smart move by Cleveland to keep feeding Pryor deep down the field. Pryor rarely worked with manufactured underneath touches.

Next, let’s take a look at which routes yielded the most successful receptions for Pryor. Which routes did he collect the most first down catches while running?

In his first year as a wide receiver, Pryor had a very impressive array of successful tools. He compiled 7 or more total first downs on five different route types - Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson only did that with one route type each in their respective previous seasons. We’ll get into it even deeper later, but you can see on this chart the ghastly efficiency Pryor sported on the go route, collecting a first down on only 15% of targets.

Next, let’s see which routes yielded the most total yards and yards per target for Pryor.

Not much changes throughout these three charts. Pryor had a very well defined set of common routes, and he thrived when seeing the ball thrown his way while running them. He feasted with routes directed towards the middle of the field, in addition to his heavy favoring for comebacks towards the sideline. Conversely, he produced little underneath.

Finally, here is the complete breakdown of Pryor’s 2016 numbers by route type. Take note of his average route depth, especially on posts and curls. Pryor’s overall average target depth of 14.4 yards was 1.5 yards higher than even Robby Anderson.

Some notes from me:

  • Pryor didn’t see a big change in style or production based on side of the field. He saw 78 right side targets to 50 left side targets (61%) ratio - but actually saw a nearly even split in total yardage by side, with 528 on the right and 479 on the left (52-48 split). That was due to an increased yards per target rate on the left (9.6 compared to 6.8 on the right), but his first down rate was also steady, with a 38% on the left compared to a 40% on the right.
  • The perception is that Pryor is a big and fast athlete who is raw as a wide receiver. That’s partially true, but I would actually classify Pryor as a route-running chain mover, surprising as that may be. He specializes in quick shifting routes towards the middle of the field (as the numbers showcase), creating separation with short area quickness. This is how he was able to make himself a first down machine despite playing with a carousel of quarterbacks on a one-win team - he was a good route runner with a variety of weapons.
  • Bouncing off of that, Pryor really isn’t the guy his physical profile might suggest he is. He made his living picking up first after first on curls, comebacks, and slants, very rarely making the splash plays that Enunwa and Anderson regularly make. Pryor has a few defined weaknesses. Drops are a big one; most of his 9 that I tracked were very routine plays. His YAC ability is also very poor, he far too often runs backwards after the catch and loses yards from the reception point. He also is not a good deep receiver, as he lacks burst off the line, top-end speed to beat defenders down the field, and the ability to reel in 50-50 balls. His quarterbacks didn’t help him at all, but Pryor’s poor go route numbers match up with his ability on those plays.
  • You have to appreciate Pryor’s versatility here. He compiled 120 yards or more on six different route varieties by my charting; Enunwa and Anderson only had two each. Don’t expect Pryor to be a beast down the field or to make things happen with the football in his hands, but he has proved he has the ability to move the chains with the best of them.

We’ll have to see if Pryor can bounce back from his supposed injury problems that plagued him in Washington, and whether or not his age at 29 years old will begin to eat at his athleticism. However, while Pryor has work to do earn a place high on the receiver depth chart, he showcased a lot of promise in 2016. I’ve mentioned this a few times already, but he was playing pro wide receiver for the first time; on the Cleveland Browns. Pryor had one game where he caught for 144 yards while taking 10 snaps at quarterback.

He didn’t accumulate 1,000 yards being an “athlete” as many may have thought, he did it with solid route-running ability and a versatile array of tools. His skillset compliments that of the other Jets receivers very well. And, who knows, it’s very possible he still has untapped potential as a WR. In time, maybe he can fix his issues with drops, creating deep route separation, and open field play to become an even better receiver. After all, as poor as his deep route production was, he showed he has the ability to find creative ways to get open deep:

There are a lot of question marks with Pryor, but a lot of potential as well even at 29 years old.


Where will Terrelle Pryor rank among Jets wide receivers in receptions in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    (24 votes)
  • 20%
    (62 votes)
  • 41%
    (123 votes)
  • 21%
    (65 votes)
  • 5%
    (17 votes)
  • 0%
    6th or lower
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Will not catch a pass
    (8 votes)
300 votes total Vote Now