Calvin Pryor is National Football League bound.
The Port St. Joe native and recent University of Louisville standout announced via Instagram that he was forgoing his senior year of college eligibility in order to enter the NFL draft.
“It is the best decision for me and my family,” Pryor wrote, saying he came to the decision after consulting coaches and his family.
Thanking fans for the “support and love” they had shown him, Pryor called his three years at Louisville “an amazing experience.”
“I’m going to miss playing here,” he continued, “but it is time to move on in the world.”
And according to at least one early prognostication Pryor could be a first-round selection.
Chris Burke at the Sports Illustrated website si.com provided his latest Mock Draft – it will be among many Burke will submit as the draft process moves forward – last week.
In it, he has Pryor, who he ranks among the top three defensive back prospects, going No. 18 overall to the Green Bay Packers.
Several other teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys, both considered to be in the market for a free safety, could be interested in Pryor.
Baltimore and Dallas pick just ahead of Green Bay in the first round.
Jermaine Lockett, a Ravens-based writer for RantSports.com, said he thought Pryor should have won the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the outstanding collegiate defensive back each year, this past season, when Pryor was again second on the Cardinals in tackles with 69, forced three fumbles and had three interceptions.
Pryor averaged over 70 tackles a season at Louisville.
Lockett asserted Pryor, first team All-American Athletic Conference, was the best defensive back in college football and should be a target of the Ravens.
“What I love about his guy is although he lays the wood on tackles, he is smart enough to break down at times and not let the ball carrier get past him,” Lockett wrote. “He knows how to wrap up and plays smart football.”
Lockett said Pryor opened eyes with 14 tackles (11 solo) and an interception in a nationally-televised game against Rutgers.
“Not only is this safety great on the ground, but his coverage in cover-2 formations is flawless,” Lockett continued. “He definitely has a nose for the ball — whether by land or air he will be there.”
Lockett noted, however, that Pryor, 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, can be caught looking in the backfield on single coverage – occasionally.
He compares Pryor to Ed Reed who was also known for giving up big plays trying to gamble and make big plays.
“Baltimore needs a gambler like Pryor,” Lockett concludes.
Writing for a Dallas Cowboy-centric website, Ryan Batty also wrote that Pryor – who came out of high school as a three-star prospect – is currently a fringe first-rounder who, in the pass-happy NFL, teams may reach for given his “tenacious” style of play.
One knock on Pryor, Batty detailed, is that is 40-yard dash time, in the high 4.6 to 4.7 range, is on the slow side.
Batty, however, says Pryor is the best hitting safety in the class – listing that attribute as Pryor’s top two strengths – with excellent vision, great range and build for a safety, is fast and athletic, can play either safety position and is a good tackler.
The negatives Batty lists are “not that good in coverage”, Pryor’s not having played against the best collegiate competition and noting that Pryor must stay under control or face fines/suspensions at the next level giving his aggressive tackling style.
“If the Cowboys are looking for a guy who could put fear in receivers, this is your guy,” Batty wrote. “Pryor plays with a tenacious attitude, paired with non-stop effort.”
He could, Batty added as a bad side, get fined or miss an open tackle trying to make the big hit too often.
But he adds that Pryor’s draft stock is likely to rise as the draft process unfolds and could become the top safety in the class by draft day.