The days and hours leading up to the NFL Draft feature an exponential rise in player movement up and down draft boards. Bryce Petty is becoming a prime example of this in 2015. Without touching a football or doing anything of real consequence, the Baylor quarterback has risen from the border of rounds two and three all the way into a round one conversation.
This comes down to the increased value put on quarterbacks in the NFL Draft, something that sees the likes of Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles drafted far above where their skill warrants. With Petty, the situation is difficult because each side of the argument holds merit.
On one hand, Petty is a third round talent that, conceivably, was going to be elevated to the latter half of round two. Using a first round pick on him is an extreme reach, especially considering that Petty is a project that may not be ready for a starting role until late 2016 or early 2017.
Petty’s offense at Baylor, which I outlined in my scouting profile of him, required him to make just one read. Three to four complimentary receivers often ran routes with the sole intention of creating space for the primary receiver, leaving Petty with an easy pitch and catch. This is the classic fear of the “system quarterback” that muddies NFL scouting waters.
That being said, Petty is not a crazy-legged athlete disguised as a quarterback. He has the body, arm and psyche required to play the quarterback position, and under the proper tutelage, could become a legitimate NFL starter. The New Orleans Saints are the clear first round landing spot at 31, which would represent two years to learn behind the great Drew Brees before taking the reigns. A watered-down version of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, perhaps. Well, reallywatered down.
Petty’s ability to step into the deep ball could shine in the Saint’s vertical passing game, especially with the young Brandin Cooks and his electric speed. In these senses, one can almost justify such a reach for Petty because at the league’s most critical position, a team cannot afford to be timid in their pursuit of the future.
Personally, I still rest in the middle. The New Orleans Saints hold the 13th pick of the second round, and there remains a strong possibility that Petty stays on the board until that point. If Tennessee is prepared to pass on Mariota, they surely won’t circle back for Petty. Teams like Philadelphia, San Diego and Cleveland all show interest in Mariota as well, but would they still make a change at QB for a lesser prospect? I hesitate to believe they would. While Petty cracking round one would not surprise me in the least, this is still a prospect that shouldn’t be heard of until day two.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Keegan Matheson