FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - He may be a Louisville slugger, so to speak, but Calvin Pryor contends that he's got all the tools to succeed in the NFL.
"I'm very confident in my ability, first and foremost," the newest Jet said Friday when asked about his coverage skills. "I feel like I have the complete package as a safety. Most people know me as a hard-hitting safety because I had a few hard hits in college. But when you watch my film, you see that play-making ability that jumps out at you, a guy that's flying around and has passion for the game."
Before the Jets got down to business on Day 2 of the NFL draft, they introduced their first-round pick.. And Pryor -- who was taken with the 18th overall pick Thursday night -- smiled widely as he held up a dark green Jets jersey with his name on the back.
"A couple years back I was in high school just running around, didn't know what I was going to do," he said Friday morning. "And just to have this chance of playing in the National Football League, it's a dream come true of mine."
Rather than trade up, general manager John Idzik stayed at No. 18 in hopes of securing a star player. And despite losing out on defensive standouts such as cornerbacks Justin Gilbert (Browns, No. 8) and Kyle Fuller (Bears, No. 15), the Jets feel extremely good about their hard-hitting safety.
Their secondary was the weak link last season, surrendering more than 4,000 passing yards. Pryor is anxious to play for defensive guru Rex Ryan. Asked what he specifically likes about the Jets' defense, the safety said: "Just the way they fly around and get after it. The Jets, they're a very gritty, very aggressive defense and that's my style of play."
Pryor started 32 of 38 games at free safety for Louisville, recording 218 tackles and two sacks. In the past two seasons, he had 175 tackles, five interceptions, 11 passes defensed and seven forced fumbles. And the first thing that stood out to the Jets on film was Pryor's physical presence.
"This young man is an enforcer," Ryan said Thursday.
That's quite impressive for a kid who rarely watched football until his first year of college. Though he played football for much of his life, Pryor also was a centerfielder on the baseball team and point guard on the basketball team during his high school days. He's also a huge Miami Heat fan.
But Pryor's focus is solely on football now. And he's determined to deliver heavy -- but clean -- hits in the NFL.
"When you see an impact like that and someone goes down like that, first you wonder, 'Is he OK?' " Pryor said. "That's the type of person I am. I care for people.
"But, at the same time football is a physical and a tough game. You have to compete at a very high level and you have to play fearless."
And he's not the least bit worried about stricter NFL rules restricting his hard-hitting game.
"I'm not," said Pryor, who added that he's tried to pattern his game after former Eagle Brian Dawkins. "Coach Ryan just said, 'Just be yourself.' In college I had clean hits, I used my shoulder pads and I don't lead with my helmet. So if I just continue to do the same thing I'm pretty sure we won't have a problem."