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The Impactful Style of Top Pick Calvin Pryor

Posted May 8, 2014

Louisville Safety's Known as a Hitter but Wants to Do It All in Jets’ Deep Middle

Updated, Friday, 12:54 p.m. ET

Calvin Pryor, our first-round draft choice from Louisville, is many things.

For instance, he's a fashion plate. "I'm pretty big on fashion," he said in between shuttling from Radio City Music Hall to the SNY studios to a van heading back to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "I always want to look the part, make sure I look sharp everywhere I go. And when I dress up like this," he said with a small gesture toward his impeccable platinum suit with white pinstripes, sharp tie and handkerchief and a purple lapel flower, "I take my style to a whole 'nother level."

Pryor also is very respectful. "How was that?" he asked a member of the Jets' media relations staff after his first mass electronic interview in the bowels of the music hall. After chatting with Brian Custer in SNY's comfy corner chairs, he made sure to reply, "Thank you, I enjoyed it." In keeping with that, he's a family guy, as mom and dad, two sisters, his nephew and his 1½-year-old daughter made the trip up from the Florida panhandle to the big city. And those were only his family in the Green Room backstage.

And while he doesn't box as a sport or a training method, he thinks he'd be good at it, perhaps in no small part due to his preference for watching the sweet science as practiced by five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather.

"I watch a lot of clips, all-access channels, documentaries and everything," he said. "I'm a really big fan of Floyd."

But what Jets fans have already heard about Pryor is that on the field, he likes to knock people down — but not to hurt them — and he wants to be a defensive quarterback once he gets up to speed in head coach Rex Ryan's and coordinator Dennis Thurman's defense.

As a hitter, he's been known by the nicknames of "Bonecrusher" — "but don't tell anybody else," he said in front of those cameras after his 18th selection — and "the Louisville Slugger."

"I was in elementary school" back in Port St. Joe, FL, when he rocked a friend in a sandlot game. "I was out there just throwing my body around. But as time passed, I became known as a big hitter."

Many Jets fans and reporters thought the way to go for our 18th pick of Thursday night's first round was either a wide receiver — and Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee were still on the board — or cornerback — and Darqueze Dennard, a player many thought was just the ticket for Ryan on the outside, was still there.

But a big bonus for teams such as the Jets and general manager John Idzik, who practice the maritime mantra that loose lips sink ships, is that they can surprise their supporters and enemies alike with a perfectly fine first pick of the draft that had eluded selection by most Green & White draftniks. That happened last year with the I-Team's selection of DT Sheldon Richardson at No. 13. All Sheldon did was add the next weapon to the front seven and win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

The situation Thursday night seemed similar with Pryor, the 5'11", 207-pounder who was viewed as a first-half-of-the-round pick after a junior season for the Cardinals in which he racked up 75 tackles, three interceptions, five pass breakups and a stretch of three games with one clean KO of an opposing player in each.

"I think the overriding factor is he was the best player in our eyes," Idzik said. "Once he was available, it was a pretty easy pick for us."

"I just want to play the game the right way," he said about that three-game, well, hitting streak. "It's a very tough, physical game and you have to go out there and play physical. Things happen. You just have to move on."

"Big hits will win games. They'll flip the momentum of a game faster than anything," Ryan told reporters at the training facility shortly after the pick. "This young man is an enforcer."

But the final personality trait we'd want to pass on tonight about our newest addition to the deep middle of the defense is that Pryor is more than the sum of his hits and he wants to be a lot more. He said he wants to be a QB of the defense and a complete safety. He fashions himself after the likes of Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks' Super Bowl safety, Troy Polamalu of the Steelers, and retired Eagle/Bronco Brian Dawkins.

And the one element of his game he wants to improve on? Well, it wasn't so much improve as put on display: "My man defense. I want to show everyone I'm a complete player."

He also cares about his teammates and the competition that will make all the safeties on the squad better. And he liked what he saw in his second trip ever to New York City.

"This is my new home," he said, ever stylishly. "I can get used to it."

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