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Bryce Petty

My top target for the Jets going into the 2015 NFL Draft was a QB -- most specifically, Marcus Mariota. Eventually, we found out that that was a near impossibility as it now appears Tennessee was locked into him from early on and unlikely to move from that under almost any circumstance.

However, my strong second choice (I hate to say 1A, but maybe 1A) was Garrett Grayson. If you haven't seen Garrett Grayson at Gruden's QB Camp -- make sure you check it out. He's an impressive young man. Smart, accurate, and just flat out knows how to play quarterback. Just watch how he goes through his progressions. He doesn't have an amazing arm -- but personally, I think arm is overrated when it comes to quarterbacks. Accuracy is far more important. I actually wanted the Jets to take Grayson with their 2nd round pick (#37 overall) -- from the prognosticators, I knew Grayson would almost certainly last way beyond that, but to me, if you think you might have found your QB, then it doesn't matter where you're going to take him, just make sure you get him and it's ok if you buffer it with a significant margin of error. Grayson ended up going in the 3rd round (#75 overall) to the New Orleans Saints -- presumably as Drew Brees' successor -- which says a lot about what they think of Grayson. Sean Payton is also a noted QBs coach. 

I was surprised when the Jets ended up drafting Baylor's Bryce Petty in the 4th round (#103 overall). Note: they had to use one of their 7th round picks to move up one slot with Jacksonville. I haven't been able to find out exactly who they were concerned about -- but NFL Network reported that Cleveland was interested in trading up with Jacksonville into that slot. However, the reporting (by Mayock I believe) said that Cleveland called after Jacksonville agreed with the Jets -- so I'm not sure. I'm not sure why I mentally gave up so early, but after the Jets didn't take a QB by the end of round 3, I sort've assumed they were ok going forward with Geno Smith (which I am NOT ok with). 

In retrospect, Petty might make more sense than Grayson. The reason is because Grayson, in many ways, is sort've like a rich man's Ryan Fitzpatrick (and I like Fitzpatrick a lot.) Smart, accurate, average to below average arm, good locker room guy. Geno is a wild card. I would just consider cutting him -- but it's undeniable he has a lot of talent but also has the worst aspects of Brett Favre in him -- never believing a play is dead and thus putting your team in terrible positions with awful turnovers. Petty is the long-term development prospect. Needs to develop a lot of the mental game of the position, but has an excellent arm. So on one end, you have the high floor / low ceiling player (Fitzpatrick) and on the other end, you have the low floor / high ceiling player (Petty). Drafting Grayson *may* have put two too similar quarterbacks on your roster. (But again, I'm a big Grayson fan, I think he can be very successful, and I would've drafted him.)

After reviewing some of the analysis and tape of Petty -- I'm pretty stunned that Petty was available in the 4th. Without a doubt, Petty's ceiling is very high. He's got a great arm and is very accurate. Throws a beautiful deep ball. The main knock on Petty is the system he played in at Baylor and his need to develop the ability to audible protection schemes. This is something Gruden worked on with Petty and Gruden described this area of Petty as "a work in progress". There's also no doubt that Petty becomes a problematic passer under pressure. Inaccurate and makes significant mistakes (interception level mistakes). This is true of pretty much every quarterback. Notable among QBs that are problematic under pressure? Tom Brady. However, there are the handful of quarterbacks / quarterback prospects who seem to have a remarkable knack for throwing under pressure -- I'm thinking of Teddy Bridgewater who will get off a perfect pass mere fractions of a second before getting leveled. (Once again -- no idea how Bridgewater lasted as long as he did last year.)

Petty's system at Baylor was also unusual. One of the pieces of footage that he and Gruden reviewed was how he executed the read option. In this particular play, Petty is at the option moment (football still in his hands, but in the gut of the running back -- so he can still either handoff or pass) -- and his read is the free safety. If the free safety bites down, he's to pass to the outside receiver who will run a slant. (Note: how deep the receiver goes was pre-determined. Petty said it's usually 1, 3, or 5 steps. How the receiver ensures he gets past the free safety, I don't know. It might be improvised or the # of steps the receiver takes might be set no matter what.) If the free safety does not bite, Petty hands off to the running back who then attacks the void not covered. It seems like a relatively simple read, but don't forget -- it's a very delicate ballet between him and the running back and in the chaos of football, it would be very easy to make a mistake here.

However, if you watch, say, footage of Baylor / Michigan St. (01/01/2015) [link] -- it sure appears that most of the sets Petty is executing out of are fairly traditional. He does not look good under pressure, but he's making pro-style throws. One side note -- Trae Waynes, CB, drafted #11 overall by Minnesota, does not look good in that game. Petty doesn't throw at him a lot, but when he does, Petty + the receiver beat Wayne every which way. 

There's no doubt that Petty will need work and development. Mayock on NFL Network specifically said he needs a redshirt year, and I likely agree. There's a significant bust risk here if Petty isn't able to develop the skills to figure out the correct protection schemes and to at least not make significant mistakes under pressure (go down or throw away the ball! Learn from Peyton!) But I see no reason he shouldn't be able to learn and develop these skills (but these areas have doomed many a quarterback prospect.) His ceiling is tremendous though. Very accurate quarterbacks with a tremendous arm don't come along often. He's got great size and can also run (but shouldn't.) But my point is he's mobile. He's a 1st round talent and assuming he can develop and the Jets have a line that can keep him upright, I expect him to be the starting QB of the Jets in the near future.