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Calvin Pryor Shorter Than Expected, Slower Than Expected, Still a Good Player

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Calvin Pryor Shorter Than Expected, Slower Than Expected, Still a Good Player

Louisville safety Calvin Pryor. Photo by Brian Carriveau of

INDIANAPOLIS––Some might argue that Calvin Pryor had a bad Combine, turning in a pedestrian time in the 40-yard dash and measuring in three inches shorter than his listed height at the University of Louisville.

For some teams, that might make the difference between ranking him as the No. 2 safety instead of No. 1, but it's not going to drop him out of the first round.

The proof is in the pudding. Turn on the film. Pryor plays faster than he times.

"(There's) a lot of buzz about him, because he is so quick coming downhill," said former Packers safety Matt Bowen, now a lead writer at Bleacher Report. "He arrives with a ton of speed."

Pryor clocked in a time of 4.58 seconds in the 40 on Tuesday, tied for eight best among safeties at the Combine and tied with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who many consider to be one of the other top safeties in this year's Draft class.

Perhaps even more unexpected was Pryor measuring in at 5-11 seeing as his published height was 6-2 at Louisville.

In the end, however, it hardly matters, because time after time Pryor displayed that he understands angles and ran with abandon to meet his opposing targets. Such traits help overcome concerns over speed and height.

"Safety is all about angles," said Pryor. "Football is an angle game. You have to have an IQ and know what's going on. You have to understand formations and how people are going to motion, and you have adjust to those things. So you have to be a smart football player at safety."

Another important factor to consider is that not all defensive backs are created equal in Bowen's eyes.

"I'll tell you right now, cornerback is much different than safety when you're looking at the 40-yard dash," said Bowen. "Cornerback, yeah, you want 4.4, 4.5 guys. 4.3 guys are pretty special. Safety, you can be a 4.55, 4.6, 4.65 guy, it's all about angles. It's not about top-end speed. It's about range. The way you develop range is by reading the quarterback."

Pryor isn't going to be asked to line up as a perimeter cornerback, negating the need for deep speed. But he does feel as if he's a versatile safety, one that's lined up as both a free safety and strong safety, one that can make a big hit as well well make a clutch interception.

Based on statistics, Pryor has not been a big-time ballhawk, coming up with a career-high three in his recently completed junior season before declaring for the draft as an underclassman. He does, however, force turnovers in different ways, causing five fumbles in 2012 and nine total over the course of his college career.

To his credit, Pryor was voted first-team All-American Athletic Conference as a junior after being named second-team All-Big East as a sophomore. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has compared Pryor to a "bigger, stronger Bob Sanders," a two-time All-Pro for the Indianapolis Colts.

Pryor certainly isn't naive about which teams in the NFL need help at safety, rattling off, "the Rams, Green Bay, Chicago, Dallas." He had a formal interview with the Packers at the Combine.

Unfortunately for Green Bay, the other three teams on that list all pick ahead of them in the first round of the draft. If they want one of the first two safeties off the board, the Packers may have a difficult decision to make.

"The Rams at 13, the Bears at 14––now the Bears could go defensive line––the Cowboys at 16," said Bowen. "So Green Bay could be in a situation where they might not get either, unless they move up. If one comes off the board, that alarm's going to go off up in Green Bay and say 'Look, we have to make a decision here. We're going to move up to get a safety or we're going to wait.'"

There are legitimate concerns about Pryor and his aggressive, perhaps over-aggressive, style of play. In three consecutive games this past season, he hit a player that did not return to the game. And then there's the occasional missed tackle that comes as a result of a lack of discipline.

Pryor says he's not going to change his style of play but will be smart about tackling with his shoulder pads and not his helmet.

"I'm just going to be myself," said Pryor, "and I'm just still going to play aggressive and play like my hair's on fire."

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (60) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Jamie's picture

I'm more surprised that Bucannon ran faster than both Pryor and Clinton-Dix...4.49.

Gimme either of the three.

Tim's picture

With Micah Hyde on the move, I don't think safety is a 1st-round priority anymore. All we need is someone who can come in and defend the deep ball when Hyde plays CB in dime, which sounds like a 3rd-round priority instead. Terrence Brooks, anyone?

Evan's picture

I think you're getting a little ahead of yourself with Hyde.

And even if he were "on the move," putting all our eggs into a guy who has never really played the position before would seem unwise.

Regardless of what happens with Hyde, safety is still a top priority. Now, maybe FA changes that.

Stroh's picture

Agree... even if Hyde moves to safety that is still an uncertain position. Personally I wiuld sign a FA safety and move Hyde. We still havemuch better CB depth. Hyde might struggle w aspects of Safety his first year or two like rookies do.

Bert's picture

Agree. I think for the present (2014)we very much need to sign a vet FA safety if at all possible. Way too many breakdowns in the secondary last year, and most due to the safeties being out of position. A rookie, no matter how promising, (or even Hyde) is going to offer an immediate cure. Tramon was correct. We need some experience on the back end not another rookie to develop in 2-3 years.

L's picture

The Pack should at least kick the proverbial tires on these Free Agents: FS Malcolm Jenkins, SS Chris D. Clemons, FS Louis Delmas, and SS Mike Mitchell as they're all young and have shown promise with their coverage skills. Outside of these players the Pack should try bringing in a lesser known player -- perhaps someone who might not of been able to get an opportunity to demonstrate his skills at the position because he was behind a star.

Steve's picture

Why don't we just take a low-risk, high reward move, and sign Nick Collins onto a 1-year "prove it" deal??? Sometimes, you need to take risks if you're fully committed to getting a position improved, and in this case, it wouldn't hurt to bring the man in. He claims he can play again, but he needs to prove it. I say LET'S TAKE A CHANCE!!!

Hank Scorpio's picture

I don't think we're getting ahead of anything with discussing Hyde to Safety. It just makes too much sense.

With Hayward back, Hyde gets pushed down the depth chart if he stays at GB. MM said Hyde is a guy that earned the right to compete on all 3 downs. It sounds like he wants to see more of Micah Hyde, not less. And he should, IMO.

Maybe Shields walks, maybe Williams gets cut. Both would alter the equation. As would signing a big name FA at Safety. It isn't the Packer way to let a young ascending player like Shields get away. It isn't like them to block a young ascending player with a veteran FA, either. Asking Williams for cap relief would at least be more "in character" but I don't see it. His cap number for a CB that you don't have to worry about is not outrageous. And guys like that are too hard to find to screw around with them unless absolutely necessary.

jeremy's picture

But he has played the position, and he sucked at it.

Evan's picture

Barely played, with very limited practice.

Hank Scorpio's picture


I can see the Packers doing that very thing for a bunch of reasons.

Hyde did many of the things Safeties in GB do as slot DB. So the position "switch" is more like a half-switch. He's known commodity inside Lambeau. If they think he can play, it eases the need. To what level will show in FA and the draft.

Second, my read of the Draft Industrial Complex makes it seems like the strength of the Safety draft class is on Day 2, not Day 1. If that's how the Packers see it, I don't think they will jump their draft board to chase need. It's not TT's M.O.

And he shouldn't. It's not like they don't have other needs. To one degree or another, you can make a case that an impact S, ILB, OLB, DL, TE, OC and OT will be helped by an impact player. Since I like Hyde moving, I would even call ILB and TE bigger needs.

Kevin VG's picture

If Pryor could be considered a "loser" at the combine, it makes me wonder about others. Does anyone make a list of "winners" and "losers" at the combine? I'd be curious to know who is moving up or down.

4thand1's picture

Aaron Donald

Nononsense's picture

Love Aaron Donald, if that guy falls to 21 I would snap him up in a heartbeat. Forget Pryor, forget Dix and Nix, I would take Donald and never look back.

Remember Cullen Jenkins, well Donald is a 1st round/better version of that guy in my humble opinion.

4thand1's picture

He won all the awards because he's a football player. Packers need football players.

Andrew's picture

If we really are going to get more multiple in our fronts like MM says, I'd take him too, but as of now it's not the best fit. He's a one gap player, and we already have guys like Daniels and Worthy who don't really have a traditional fit in a 3-4 and have no use for us in the base D.

Steve's picture

That's why we need to adapt to these players, not make them learn a new system. There's potential in those 2 to become great players for us, but they're in a bad system. If Dom Capers would for once change the scheme up so it's suits the players well, then maybe we can put together a solid defense to help complement our amazing offense.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Most draft websites have some sort of a winners and losers.

CBS sports is a great draft website to follow.

The TKstinator's picture

In the first round, gimme a good player.
In the second round, gimme a good player.
In the third round,....see where I'm going with this??

RC Packer Fan's picture

In this draft, I think you will be able to get your wish through the 4th round.

This is a deeper draft then most years. Some positions aren't as deep as others, but as a whole this is a deep draft.

Derek in CO's picture

I gotta take speed and play making ability over height any other measurable. I still think Ha-Ha is probably the best mix of the three, and played under a good coach who prepares guys well for the NFL. Ask Eddie Lacy.

Nononsense's picture

At this point I don't even care who we draft as long as they end up being a good player. Lets remove need from the equation and just get good football players at any position. Forget about scheme, get me a player that's not currently injured or one that doesn't have a history of injuries and I will be happy.

The TKstinator's picture

Someone is speaking my language.

steven's picture

Buccannon tested insane in everything. I believe he just became a 1St round player,

Evan's picture

I was just reading up on him after Brian's tweet. Impressive numbers, for sure.

RC Packer Fan's picture

He was an impressive player to watch playing as well...

He was my top 3 safety's. I still liked Clinton-Dix and Pryor better.

But Bucannon really had an impressive combine, that is for sure.

I might have to move Bucannon ahead of Pryor on my list. I understand that Pryor's tape is very impressive but the one thing I didn't like is his tackling (goes for the knock out to much), and coming in 3" smaller then we thought, that really hurts.

Bucannon also has some good tape, and the one thing that I liked better with him is his tackling seems to be more sound.

steven's picture

Yes, and buchannon had elite speed. He can hit like pryor but seems to play with less reckless abandonment.

The TKstinator's picture

I live in fear of reckless abandonment.

Stroh's picture

I don't like Bucannon's quickness numbers in the shuttle especially. Doesn't change directions well and shows stiffness in the hips. He'll get exposed in coverage and could be a bust. Gotta have shuttle <4.2 or I'm scared he'll bust. Pryor's times weren't posted in the shuttle and cone, so I'm expecting he'll wait for Pro Day. Bucannon better improve his shuttle IMO.

4thand1's picture

I don't know, this just seems like putting to much stock in the combine to me. I gotta watch some film of him actually playing.

Stroh's picture

Not just the combine. Look at his profile on NFL... Stiff hips and poor coverage. You want that in a Safety? The shuttle time just confirms the tape.

Jamie's picture

I think you're way overjudging and making a unfair projection on Bucannon based on agility numbers that are solid at worst. Compare his 3-cone and 20 yd shuttle to a similarly built/athletic All-pro safety in Kam Chancellor and Bucannon blows his numbers away (he also ran a much faster combine 40), and is on par with Clinton-Dix and I went ahead and threw in a very good young safety in Eric Berry as well...

Bucannon - 6.96
Chancellor - 7.36
Clinton-Dix - 7.16
Berry - 6.80

20-yd Shuttle
Bucannon - 4.26
Chancellor - 4.41
Clinton-Dix - 4.16
Berry - 4.23

There's absolutely no basis, using the information currently available to us, to label Bucannon as a possible bust.

Steve's picture

Jamie, TT and MM are definitely going to look at this guy because of his great combine. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up being one of these gems that pops up that the media never really put the "high-ticket name" onto. But at this time, I just want the Packers to draft smart for the defensive side of the ball, and give this team some play-makers, and guys that are real FOOTBALL PLAYERS.

Andrew's picture

Funny how Pryor talks about angles, but when you turn on the tape he gets caught taking bad angles and over pursuing far too often for a guy considered a first rounder. His highlight tape shows a first rounder, but the whole picture shows something else, IMO. I'd take Clinton-Dix and Ward over him if I had the choice.

4thand1's picture

One thing everyone will agree on. Who ever they pick, it will be an immediate upgrade.

packsmack25's picture

Give me Bucannon over the slow guys all day every day. Those guys might be good in other schemes, but Dom requires speed on the back end.

4thand1's picture

Man ,Vic Ketchman had a great reply to a question on drafting for need. In 2005 the Vikings passed on Rodgers because they needed a DE. So at pick 18 they drafted Erasmus James,LOL. After all they had Brad Jones and Donte Culpepper. WTG Vikes and all the other teams I should add.

Jamie's picture

Actually, they passed on Rodgers twice...the first time to fill the need for WR after trading Moss to the Raiders.

They took Troy 'Football Stuck in My Facemask' Williamson at #7 overall.

Evan's picture

I love shitting on the Vikings as much as the next guy, but they had no need for Rodgers. Culpepper was only 28 and coming off a 4,700+ yard season with 39 TDs and just 11 INTs.

Of course it would be his last good/full season, but that's hindsight.

Jamie's picture you've spoiled the fun.

That entire draft was just craptastic for the Vikings.

Evan's picture

ha...sorry about that.

Just reminds me of someone of twitter the other day arguing TT should take Manziel if he drops to 21. Manziel might be an all-pro, but it would be idiotic for the Packers to take him.

The TKstinator's picture

"Vortex of suck" indeed!

4thand1's picture

Jamie that was really rotten of you. HA! I'll never feel bad about a Packers' draft again.

Hank Scorpio's picture

RE: Combine 40 time.

Today on Green and Gold today, they were discussing Chris Borland. Bill Johnson compared Borland to AJ Hawk (interesting comparison but that's beside the point). That prompted Jason Wilde to look up Hawk's combine numbers. Hawk ran a 4.59. It sure doesn't seem like Hawk plays like a guy with 4.59 speed to me. I just looked up Matthews, who ran a 4.62. He sure plays faster than Hawk.

So take the 40 time with a grain of salt. I'm far more troubled with Pryor shrinking a few inches than posting a so-so 40 time.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I heard the part about the 40's.

I didn't here it but what were the comparisons for the 3 cone and shuttle?

Everyone forgets that Hawk was an outstanding athlete.
That's why most are shocked with his play in the NFL because he had the production in college and had a very good combine.

Speaking of Borland. I will still take him in the 2nd-3rd round area.
People talk about a slow time for Pryor but he plays faster. Borland Instincts are off the charts and he plays a lot faster then his times because his instincts put him into position.

The TKstinator's picture

So you will take Borland in the 2nd-3rd area? What team are you GM of?

(Just busting your chops, amigo, couldn't resist!)

I get your point though. Good player/less than stellar numbers? Bad player/great numbers? Average player/? numbers?

The NFL is filled with every possible combination of these variables. Glad I don't make my living that way!

RC Packer Fan's picture

Ha, no problem. I don't mind that kind of ball busting.

The biggest thing after watching the draft for however many years, players with better numbers go up the boards and players with not as good numbers fall in the draft.

Borland's numbers are not as good as most would want. But honestly, his numbers were about what I expected of him. The thing for me is his instincts make him play like a 4.6 guy vs a 4.8 guy.

I try not to focus on the numbers as much, I like to use the numbers to compare to the on field production.

There are a few things that the combine numbers can't measure, and that is the guys instincts, eyes and heart.

4thand1's picture

As usual, way to much is put into the combine. The combine doesn't measure heart on the field. Hell a guy could just have a bad day at the combine and his stock could drop? BS. Guess thats why teams watch game film.

RC Packer Fan's picture

The combine is a tool used for the draft.
A lot of weight is put on the combine. Probably to much.

But the fact is that a guy that runs slower will be dropped, and a guy that runs a faster will be elevated most times.

The biggest thing the combine does is it confirms game tape.

Stroh's picture

40 time is usually very over-rated. Look at the shuttle drill specifically and the 3 cone a little to get an idea of a guys athleticism. Quickness best measured by the shuttle is easily the most important trait for a football player. Case in point Casey Hayward. 3.9 shuttle but a 4.55 40. The shuttle time is OUTSTANDING, speed is very marginal.

Evan's picture

He had the 3rd best 3-cone:

1. Daniel Sorensen (BYU) - 6.47
2. Brock Vereen (Minnesota) - 6.90
3. Deone Bucannon (Washington State) - 6.96

He struggled a bit in the 20-yard shuttle, coming in 8th
1. Daniel Sorensen (BYU) - 3.95
2. Brock Vereen (Minnesota) - 4.07
3. Dion Bailey (USC) - 4.15
4. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama) - 4.16
5. Marqueston Huff (Wyoming) - 4.19
8. Bucannon 4.26

Evan's picture

Is it odd for a player to perform so well in one agility drill but relatively poorly in another?

Stroh's picture

The shuttle is by far the most indicative test for quickness. 3 cone isn't as good a measure, since its more upright and the doesn't require the suddenness to change direction like the shuttle does.

al's picture

Bucannon my safty choice

madmanJack's picture

aside from character issues, take the best player available regardless of position even if it means WR, OLB, DL, OL. and if you have 3 or 4 guys that you like still down for more picks and still get a guy. as this is one deep draft, we have a need for bodies with all the FA that will be leaving.

4thand1's picture

Totally agree

Albert Lingerfeld's picture

I think Pryor will be ok. One thing for sure, he is going to meet his match and then some of 6'4 an up receivers who are skilled at going up alley oop for the ball, something he rarely saw in college.
He also is going to find out that being 5'10 and trying to hit these big guys is no fun.
I think the Pack will go with Nix and find short, less talented Safeties like we have now in the later rounds. Nothing changes but the names.

zeke's picture

"Nothing changes but the names."

Or the moronic posts.

4thand1's picture

Yep, Zeke, according to ol Albert, Pryor just shrunk another inch. Were so sorry, uncle Albert, but you haven't done a bloody thing allll day. A L the official TT & MM hater.

Chris P Bacon's picture

I want a 6'2 bone crushing cover guy. No one 5'10 dbacks who lack speed, tackling and cover skills. We got a team full of them already.

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