Last season with the NY Jets, free safety Calvin Pryor entered his sophomore season with much to prove due to a terrible rookie campaign. Pryor not only rose to occasion but proved his worth.
In his rookie season, Pryor looked lost, confused and was even demoted due to his lack of making an impact on the football field. When he was drafted by the Jets as their first-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, he had a lot of hype in being a hard-hitting safety that would leave his mark on receivers trying to catch anything in his vicinity.
Of course that was during an era of rough times for the Jets who were under the leadership of general manager John Idzik and head coach Rex Ryan. Pryor was also not playing his natural position of free safety but as a strong safety. The results didn’t come at all when he tried to see if the transition would replicate the big stats he put up at Louisville.
In 2014, Pryor totaled 36 tackles, two passes defended and failed to record a single interception. Due to how abysmal the Jets were in 2014, owner Woody Johnson cleaned house and brought in a brand new leadership team led by general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles to put the Jets back into winning ways.
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One of the many smart changes they made was putting Pryor back in his natural position of free safety and that change brought immediate results.
Last season, Pryor totaled 50 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defended. He was more aware of his surroundings and made many smart plays during key defensive stops.
He looked a lot more comfortable and was thriving because of the support all around him. It’s no secret that he also played with a chip on his shoulder since many were ready to label him a bust but he stuck with his natural instincts and abilities to silence his critics.
Another area that Pryor stepped up in is his leadership. He was paying attention to everything he learned through veterans like Antonio Cromartie, Darrelle Revis and Buster Skrine to really hone his craft. Players like Pryor tend to have a breakout season in their third year and since that is approaching in 2016, he will more than likely deliver his best season yet.