"He fits us. He fits our profile," Jets GM John Idzik said about Pryor. "He has range, makes plays."
The 21-year-old Pryor is listed at 5 feet 11 inches and 207 pounds.
"This young man is an enforcer," Rex Ryan said of his new safety.
Pryor is considered one of the hardest hitters in the draft and possibly the top safety in the draft (NFL). Pryor made 218 tackles in his three seasons at Louisville. He had seven interceptions over his collegiate career, three in his junior season. Pryor had two forced fumbles last season, too.
"This kid... we think is special," Ryan said.
He missed just one game due to a violation of an unspecified team rule.
"I've always been a hard hitter," Pryor said. "Every team has a wide receiver or a tight end that is a tough match up, but I look forward to the competition."
This is the fifth draft in a row that the Jets have taken a defensive player with their first round pick.
Rex Ryan has never valued the safety position as high as he has corner, but Rex Ryan isn’t the loudest voice in the draft room anymore. That voice belongs to John Idzik and he saw the success of the Legion of Boom in Seattle. It’s hard to argue with the results. Pryor himself told reporters in Radio City that he models his game after Kam Chancellor, member of the Legion.
Pryor played a lot of one-high safety in his time in college at Louisville and the Cardinals used Pryor in very deep one-high safety sets quite often. Pryor’s highlight reel is the stuff of internet legend, but take into account that the new Jet played so deep that some of those bone-crunchers were at full speed. It doesn't diminish the physicality with which Pryor plays, it's just the speed at which he was ringing bells in college might not be an exact duplicate now that he's moving to the NFL.
The Jets are in desperate need of a coverage safety and while the second corner spot was an area of concern, deploying Pryor in help situations as the one-high safety is tailor-made for Rex Ryan’s scheme. Pryor will fit right in, play the vocal leader on the team's back end of the defense and help direct traffic for the secondary.
Before tonight's pick, the Jets were going to be a good defense, but adding Pryor to this unit ties the secondary together nicely and puts a bow on what the front seven already is. This now will allow the Jets to deploy Antonio Allen in his natural box-safety role and the Jets might have just locked down three quarters of their secondary for years to come.
This was mildly surprising, although I do feel that the perceived desperation to upgrade at the receiver and cornerback position was somewhat overblown. Pryor doesn't have elite measurables, but his range looks good and he can obviously hit. He should fit nicely into the group of young guys they have back there. He's a better prospect than the last Louisville safety the Jets drafted (Kerry Rhodes) and that guy made a pretty good impact here.
While I will be understandably crestfallen if this pick means Ed Reed won't be back for a second season, if Pryor lives up to his potential we're going to love him. Expect to hear the Jets say he was one of the top guys on their board any time now...