NFL Draft: Q&A with top safety prospect Calvin Pryor
By Dan Dahlke
Louisville Cardinals safety Calvin Pryor (25) waves his arms to the crowd in the fourth quarter as theCardinals beat the Miami Hurricanes 36-9 to win the Russell Athletic Bowl. David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2014 NFL Draft only a few months away, we reached out to some of the draft prospects we believe the Green Bay Packers could target in May. We’ve already heard from Michael Sam and Kelcy Quarles earlier in the week. Today, we will hear from one of the top safeties in this year’s draft class, Louisville’s Calvin Pryor.
Since Pryor decided to forego his senior season at Louisville and declare for the draft, he’s been one of the most talked about safety prospects going into May. Several mock draft experts, including analyst Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN, have Pryor pegged for Green Bay with the 21st overall pick.
Take a quick look at Pryor’s college resume and you can see why so many people are excited to see what he does at the next level. Pryor made impact plays on the field throughout his time in the Cardinals secondary. He forced nine fumbles, seven interceptions, and delivered plenty of bone-crushing hits in his three-year career.
The Florida native was also named a First Team All-American for his impressive 2013 season and comes out of college as a potential first round selection in the NFL Draft.
Pryor is an athletic defensive back who makes impact plays all over the field. He would certainly be welcomed in Green Bay.
However, we wanted to learn more about the underclassman from Louisville, so we reached out to him and he was courteous enough to take the time to answer our questions.
Q. With the college season over, what are your plans from now until the NFL Draft in May?
CP: With me skipping my senior season at the University of Louisville and not having to attend a senior bowl game, I am training in Boca Raton with Tony Villani and XPE Sports. I’ll train here all the way up until the combine in Indy and return back to Louisville at some point after the combine so I can prepare for pro day.
Louisville Cardinals safety Calvin Pryor ushes against the South Florida Bulls during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Q. Anyone watching a Louisville game will see No. 25 making plays all over the field. Do you take pride in being a playmaker on defense?
CP: I take a lot of pride in being a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. My teammates are depending on me to do my job and make a difference while being out on the field. A big hit or a huge interception during a critical situation in the game can change a ballgame around.
Q. In your opinion, what are the strengths of your game?
CP: My physical presence, instincts and feel for the game, and versatility are my strengths. I can drop down in the box to support the run, or I can drop into coverage and cover a lot of ground with my range. I have a nose for the ball, and I feel like it’s my job to make each play I can.
Q. What’s an area of your game you’d like to work on improving going forward?
CP: There’s always room for improvement when you are trying to get better as a football player, so I would like to improve in each phase of the game. My main focus is to get faster and improve in man coverage because I know I’ll be facing elite talent each week in the NFL.
Louisville Cardinals safety Calvin Pryor tackles Houston Cougars running back Ryan Jackson.
Q. Safeties these days are asked to do a lot on the field. Personally, would you rather drop back in coverage and ball hawk or play near the line of scrimmage and mix it up against the run?
CP: The game of football has really become a passing game, so not many safeties have to drop down into the box anymore. I love being a ball hawk in center field, but it’s always nice to drop down into the box and mix it up against the run.
Q. There is a lot of speculation and opinion that goes into the draft process, like expert player rankings and mock drafts. As a player, do you pay attention to any of this stuff?
CP: My main focus is to get better each day as a person on and off the field. The player rankings and mock drafts are cool to look at from time to time, but you can’t get caught up in what people are saying about you. My film speaks for itself and that’s what I think really matters at the end of the day.
Q. Many see safety as being a major need for the Packers going into the draft. How would you feel about being drafted by Green Bay?
CP: I would love to play in Green Bay because I feel it’s a championship atmosphere. I’ve heard great things about the organization and how the fanbase is very supportive. When you thought about Green Bay a couple years back when they won the Super Bowl, they had an outstanding defense who took pride in stopping the run and defending the pass when the ball is thrown in the air.
Louisville Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) and safety Calvin Pryor (25) celebrate after the victory against the Kentucky Wildcats. Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Q. If the Packers do draft you in May, what kind of player would they be getting, and what would you bring to their defense?
CP: I will bring my aggressive style of play and make sure my teammates improve and play at a very high level. I take pride in being a leader on and off the field. The fans can expect a great person with amazing character. I’m very appreciative of the fans and everyone in the community that supports the team. I love the game of football and I plan on playing with a lot of passion and make my presence known when I step onto the field. My high energy for the game and hard-hitting ability I believe can make a huge difference. I’m a student of the game and my play will speak for itself.
Q. What do you love about playing the safety position?
CP: I’ve been playing the safety position all my life and I love the fact you can show off your ability and athleticism. You can help support the run or you can cover receivers when given the opportunity. At safety you can see the whole field and create opportunities for yourself to make plays.
Q. When you’re away from football, what are some of your favorite things to do?
CP: When I’m away from the game of football (which is not often), I love spending time with my family and friends. I’m huge on video games, so I don’t mind playing the Xbox from time to time. I’m just a laid back person who doesn’t do much. I love the game of football, so I try to stay as close to it as I possibly can. Football is my gift in life and that’s all I know.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like Packers fans to know about you?
CP: I can’t wait until May to see where I’ll land on draft day. Hopefully, it’s Green Bay at pick #21, but I plan on giving my all to whomever decides to pick me up in this year’s draft.
Career college stats
• 2013 – 75 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3 INTs, 4 PBUs, and 2 FF
• 2012 – 99 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 INTs, 5 PBUs, 4 FF, and a sack
• 2011 – 43 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 INTs, 5 PBUs, 2 FF, and a sack