Art Briles knows what a first-round draft pick looks like. He’s had five of them, after all, since arriving as Baylor’s head coach in 2008.
While scouts continue to evaluate quarterback Bryce Petty’s draft stock, Briles remains steadfast in his belief that Petty should join Robert Griffin III and the other BU first-rounders with his own banner on the west wall of the Allison Indoor Facility.
“I still think he’ll be a first-round draft choice,” Briles said. “To me, it’s all about production on the field.… Beyond that, it’s the character, his demeanor and then the chip on his shoulder and his attitude to want to be great. If you burn hot, you play hot, and he’s a guy that burns hot. That’s what I appreciate about him.”
Briles rattles off Petty’s stats to back up his statement: Petty had a 21-4 record, with back-to-back Big 12 championships, while throwing for 8,195 yards, 62 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.
Was it good enough for the NFL?
“Football is football,” Briles said. “If a guy can play, a guy can play. It’s all about being with the right people in the right system with the right mentality.”
Petty won’t go to Chicago for the NFL Draft; he’ll hold a crawfish boil at the family’s house in Midlothian.
Petty’s workout partner, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, ranks as the favorite to be the top choice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Petty’s wait likely lasts much longer.
Most draft analysts expect Petty to go no earlier than the second day.
“I don’t know how many kids want to grow up and say, ‘I can’t wait to be a second-round pick,’” Petty said. “… Back in the day, it was to be the No. 1 pick overall and changing a franchise and changing a city, that whole thing. But right now it’s important about what I do when I get there as opposed to when I get there. Regardless if it’s first round, second round, third round …. Obviously, I hope it is first round, just probably ego-wise.
“But like I’ve said all along: There’s a plan, and I know I sound like a broken record, but there’s a plan and God’s going to put me exactly where I need to be.”
Three quarterbacks coaches stood among the 35 scouts from 27 teams who watched Petty’s every move Wednesday at the school’s Pro Day. He had dinner with Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Ryan Day on Tuesday night, and Petty talked with Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson afterward about setting up a meeting.
Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Carl Smith also attended Petty’s throwing session.
“There’s always going to be a learning curve for these types of quarterbacks, because they’re not used to being in the huddle,” Wilson said. “They’re not used to calling the play. They’re not used to doing some of these things — changing the protection. There’s a learning curve, but you can see physical traits you like. And he’s a great kid to talk with, so he’s got that going for him. I think he’s got a real chance.”
Petty, 23, has done everything he can do to prove a successful NFL career awaits him. He completed 69 of 77 throws in a workout scripted by his personal quarterbacks coach, George Whitfield. Petty’s receivers dropped five passes, with only three of his incompletions deemed poor throws.
“That’s the best executed Pro Day I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve been a part of some great ones,” said Whitfield, who directed Pro Days for Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel, among others. “… I’m talking from mentality to the accuracy to his pace. We’ve had some big ones; I’ve seen some big ones. But this is like by far. … He’ll be disappointed about the balls he missed, but that was A-plus.”
Petty went under center for every throw. He played in the shotgun in Baylor’s spread offense, which uses a signal system to relay plays.
Everyone agrees Petty won’t be a walk-in starter, needing time to hone his skills in a pro-style offense. But NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock calls Petty the “most natural thrower in the draft.”
“People are going to like him or not like him, and the biggest issue is going to be the transition,” said Mayock, who attended the Pro Day. “From my perspective, I think he’s a year or two away from being able to compete as a starting quarterback. But I think the good news is he has starter traits. If you have starter traits, it puts you somewhere else in the draft than if they think you’re going to be a career backup. I think he has the right traits, but I think he needs a lot of reps under center in real combat.”
Petty can wait, trusting he will be worth the wait.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” he said.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760