Friday, April 17, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #72 - Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
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Bryce Petty #14 of the Baylor Bears moves down the line of scrimage against the  Michigan State Spartans during the second half of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium on January 1, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Bryce Petty #14 of the Baylor Bears moves down the line of scrimage against the Michigan State Spartans during the second half of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium on January 1, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor - 6'3, 230 - RS Senior - 4.87 40
As we are all well aware, this sport is about the Quarterback position in just about every situation.  If you have a QB, you are able to overcome many obstacles.  But, if you don't have a QB, then, you are looking for that no matter how strong the team is overall.   2015 is not a great year to need a QB beyond the top 2, but there is certainly a local product that is the wildcard in this draft.  The soon to be 24 year-old RS Senior from Baylor, Bryce Petty.
Petty is a very interesting player who has many things to like.  Of course, keeping that from putting him squarely on Day 1 of the draft is something that we have known since Petty was in High School.  That Baylor does football in a different way than most schools.  There is no play-book.  They win on tempo.  They don't really use huddles.  And, they are running an offense that is often scoffed at for its numbers and its video game results.  They are certainly not ordinary.  And neither is their QB.  But, what I have a hard time understanding from my colleagues in the draft nerd community is the fact that we knew all of this.  Why then, did Petty go from being a Top 10 candidate 9 months ago to a guy who people aren't sure if he is a Top 50 guy now?  Because to me, the knocks on him were known last year.  He played a really solid 2014 while being hurt and I am trying to figure out what experts now don't appreciate.
So, to study, I examined the Baylor games against TCU, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
What I liked:  Petty is a very big, strong-armed QB who is able to sling the ball from the far hashmark to the sideline with just a twist of his body.  This strength has likely led to rather poor mechanics at times, but arm strength is not an issue.  Also, his judgement is quite sound and he knows when to throw the ball and where to throw it.  He is not without mistakes, but his judgement is right where I need it.  Also, he engineers this offense with precision and patience that is not always a given with a big time QB.  The patience shown late in that TCU game - while down 21 in the 4th Quarter - was really impressive stuff.  He also looks cool in tight situations and brave as heck as he stands in against the blitz.  He played 2014 with a rather significant back injury - forever compared to Tony Romo's - and still would not bail out under many blitzes and stood tall and delivered.  His deep ball is beautiful, but he also throws crossers on ropes.
What I did not like:   I would love it if he looked a little more comfortable on the keeper when he runs the zone read.  He often stumbles down the field and despite having decent speed, looks pretty awkward on his feet.  He also was blitzed 19 times at West Virginia with the house and given that Baylor was defeated in that critical situation, one would have to say that it gave them issues.  That said, Oklahoma and others wanted to replicate it and were unable to do so.  Baylor figured it out because Petty was confident in where to go with the ball. In the tape below, he stared down his guy and led the TCU LB right into the path for a critical pick 6.  His health has a few notes - back and concussion - and he is a rather old prospect at 24.  We have seen older, but he won't get the benefit of the doubt with development that a 21 year old might, and given that he might need a year or two to transition to the world of playbooks, huddles, and complex offensive designs, you can see how age might cross the minds of those in decision-making positions.

Summary:  My summary of Bryce Petty is simple.  I like his game and I like his upside.  I think he can play big time QB and I assume if he gets the right fit he will be a solid starter in the NFL.  He is intelligent, ambitious, and has the tools.  Now, the right fit is vital and the clock is ticking.  Something tells me that a team like the Philadelphia Eagles would look at him and prefer Marcus Mariota, but at the price, this is the investment they will make.  He produces, stays out of trouble, comprehends what is asked of him, and delivers when he needs to do so.  He is not the perfect prospect and he has some hurdles to overcome, but I am certainly the type of guy who expects him to be grabbed earlier than some might think and perhaps even creep into the lofty heights of Late Round 1 or 2.  He is absolutely the 3rd best QB in this class that I have seen.
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