Free Agent Terrelle Pryor Signing with the Tennessee Titans Needs to Happen

by Edward DeLauter ·

Terrelle Pryor’s emergence as a top fantasy wide receiver in 2016 should have surprised none after circumstances cleared his pathway into the Brown’s lineup. Between Corey Coleman’s broken hand and Josh Gordon’s ongoing relationship with Mary Jane, Pryor and his 128.3 Height-adjusted Speed Score (HaSS) were able to capitalize on the targets (141) funneled his way in order to produce 13.2 fantasy point per game (No. 24). The interesting thing about Pryor’s season was that he was able to parlay his opportunity into back end wide receiver 2 production despite a lack of efficiency as evidenced by his -9.4 Production Premium (No. 80).  The question then becomes, is Pryor, due to his lack of wide receiver experience, an inefficient player, or are there other externalities that can explain his inefficiencies?

Terrelle Pryor’s 141 targets resulted in only 77 receptions giving him a 54.6-percent catch rate (No. 75), the second lowest catch rate among top-24 wide receivers in fantasy points per game, only Dez Bryant (52.1-percent) was lower. As such, if Pryor was a wide receiver prone to a low catch rate, his wide receiver 24 production would be hard to sustain without continued massive target volume or (in the case of Dez) a touchdown spike. However, Pryor’s contested catch rate of 81.8-percent, and drop rate of 1-percent, ranks within the top-5 of the top-24 wide receivers in fantasy points per game. This data suggests Pryor is not to blame for his low catch rate and his low efficiency.

Terrelle Pryor Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The Browns QBs

Not all targets are equal. While there is no metric that encapsulates the quality of an individual target, a few metrics can help us determine the type of target a player is seeing overall. Below is a chart of the quarterbacks behind the top 24 fantasy wide receivers in points per game. Included in this chart are the three quarterbacks that Terrelle Pryor predominantly saw targets from in 2016: Cody Kessler (195 attempts), Josh McCown (165 attempts), and Robert Griffin III (147 attempts).

Browns Quarterbacks Vs. The League

First, let’s look at QB accuracy. Of note, McCown’s (54.5-percent) completion percentage and Robert Griffin III‘s (59.2-percent) completion percentage, are at the bottom of all quarterbacks, meaning that whatever targets where thrown Terrelle Pryor’s way were mostly uncatchable due to inaccuracy when considering Pryor’s 1-percent drop rate.  Granted, Cody Kessler, completing 65.6-percent of all passes grades out as average among the listed QB’s however these attempts were mostly of the short yardage variety, as evidenced by his 7.9 depth of attempt, 4.2 air yards per attempt (No. 26), and 2.2 deep ball attempts per game (No. 36). Furthermore, when Kessler did throw it deep, his accuracy was average evidenced by a 35-percent deep ball completion percentage (No. 14). At least Kessler was average when it came to throwing it deep. Both McCown (25.9-percent) and Griffin (30-percent) fell well below this threshold. This means that Pryor, again, considering his 1-percent drop rate, was unable to see accurate targets when in a space best suited for his skill set. Lastly, all Browns quarterbacks were at the bottom of the league when it came to fantasy points per attempt. Kessler (.4) and McCown (.36) grade out at the bottom while Griffin (.48) grades out as slight below average when compared to the QBs behind the top 24 wide receivers.

All this data points to the fact, and perhaps is a long way of saying that, of the wide receivers in the top 24 in points per game last year, Terrelle Pryor had the worst triumvirate of QB talent and thus the quality of his targets suffered more so than any other wide receiver of the top 24 in points per game. Thus, it is not Pryor who is inefficient, intrinsically as a player, it was his quarterback play surrounding him that led to his inefficiency. To solve this, and unleash Pryor’s efficiency, he will need an upgrade at QB but still land in a place where he can see over 25-percent of all targets.

Mariota and the Titans

Marcus Mariota Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The best place for Pryor to land on is the Tennessee Titans where Marcus Mariota will greet him with open arms. No quarterback was as efficient as Mariota based on his +25.1 Production Premium in 2016. While, Mariota’s dual threat ability as a runner, as evidenced by his 123.5 Burst Score (91st-percentile) and 10.98 Agility Score (93rd-percentile) is part and parcel of that efficiency, Mariota, was also a top 10 quarterback in most passing efficiency metrics as he passed for 7.6 yards per attempt (No.9), and 4.9 air yards per attempt (No. 6). In addition, Mariota, averaged 4.6 deep ball attempts per game completing 46-percent of them (No. 8).  Therefore, not only is Mariota an efficient quarterback overall, he is an efficient quarterback downfield which best suits Terrelle Pryor’s skill set.

The only downside to a Marcus MariotaTerrelle Pryor pairing is volume. The Titans threw only 533 times (No. 29) last season compared to the Browns’ 634 pass attempts (No. 7). However, despite the decrease in passing plays Pryor can still amass 133 targets if he is able to see at least 25-percent of the Titan’s targets, which would be more than Julio Jones and Michael Thomas saw in 2016.  The upside is Pryor should have no difficulty leap-frogging Rishard Matthews, Delanie Walker, and Tajae Sharpe on the Titan’s target totem pole.

Rishard Matthews Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Rishard Matthews is best suited as a slot/flanker, with above average agility evidenced by a 11.07 Agility Score (64th-percentile) being his only assailable athletic attribute. Pryor should have no problem overtaking Matthews and his lowly 90.9 HaSS (35th-percentile). As the Titans go-to receiver in 2016, Matthews’ production was buoyed by his 9 receiving touchdowns, and leading the Titan’s wide receivers in red zone target share (21.1-percent). At 6-4 Terrelle Pryor would instantly inherit the role of Titans’ red zone go-to receiver and have double digit touchdown potential.

Terrelle Pryor would also be the preferable red zone target over Delanie Walker. Pryor’s 69.2-percent red zone catch rate was more efficient than Walker’s 52.9-percent red zone catch rate. Pryor also dwarfed Walker’s contested catch rate by +16.7-percent. In addition, to red zone efficiency Pryor also has father time on his side, as Walker will be entering his age 33 season in 2017 and has not played in a full slate of games since becoming the Titans full time tight end in 2013.

Delanie Walker Medical History Report

Tajae Sharpe had an utterly forgettable 2016 rookie debut, as the only Titans receiver to see over 40-percent of the snaps to post a -18.8 Production Premium (No. 92). Sharpe was clearly the Titan’s worst receiver posting an abysmal, -34.1-percent Target Premium (No. 107). Nothing he did on the field commanded targets as evidenced by his 10.5-percent Hog Rate (No. 84) Devoid of any above average workout metric to hang his hat on, Sharpe would be no threat to Terrelle Pryor’s ascension to top dog in target share in the event he signs with the Titans and may not be long for the NFL.

Terrelle Pryor may or may not sign with the Titans this offense but if he does he would no doubt see an exponential increase in efficiency due to Marcus Mariota and he would be in a prime position to replicate his target opportunity making a top five fantasy wide receiver season inevitable.