His numbers are extremely productive. In Baylor’s spread attack QB Bryce Petty let it fly for more than eight-thousand passing yards the last two seasons along with 61 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions. However, NFL talent evaluators are more focused on projecting Petty’s skill set to the NFL game where he’ll be asked to do things far differently than he did in Waco.
Petty’s offense, which did not have play calls to facilitate running plays quickly, was largely a one-read scheme that helped to reveal the best one-on-one matchups for him to exploit. He demonstrated an ability to extend plays with his legs and knows where the soft spots in zone defenses are located. Petty is also capable of hitting receivers deep, but his success rate wasn’t great.
To Petty’s credit he set out to change that perception participating at the Senior Bowl and fared well by most accounts.
“It was an unbelievable opportunity,” Petty said of the Senior Bowl. “From what I understand, Baylor’s offense is not high on the leaderboards of transitioning to the NFL. For me, it was an opportunity to prove that I belong, that I’m relevant, I can make that transition, and do it well. Be successful at it.”
While the week of practice did provide NFL scouts with a glimpse of what he could be in a pro-style offense, how long it’ll take him to get it all down is still going to largely be an educated guess.
“He didn't have to throw with anticipation,” said Mayock. “If the first look isn't there, he is hesitant and indecisive which leads to stacks and other problems. You want to say you're going to need at least a redshirt year as a second or third-round draft pick, but what they need is live snaps, not seven-on-seven snaps in practice. It's a really difficult issue.”
“I can drop back, five steps, seven steps. I can read defenses and go through progressions,” said Petty. “All the things that we might not have had to do at Baylor and unfortunately it is a knock, but at the same time that’s what I was told to do, so I just try to do it to the best of my ability. That’s exactly what I want to do in the NFL. Whatever system I’m in I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. I made a joke that I was going to bring a sleeping bag to the facility. That’s how I approach this game. I’m a student of the game.”
Petty has demonstrated that kind of work ethic in preparation for the NFL combine and the draft working with renowned quarterback coach George Whitfield. Petty has been working every day on his drop backs, his progressions and anticipatory throws alongside fellow draft prospect Jameis Winston.
“I have aspirations to be the best, and so to be the best, you’ve got to be around the best,” Petty said. “That’s exactly what I wanted to with George. I’ve been with him for three years now. Me and him just jell. We get each other. I learn a lot from him.
“Then, with Jameis, that kid comes to work. I love it. Every day he comes to work and we push each other. That’s a guy who’s at the top of the list for going in the draft, so just to be able to work with him and be able to push him… he pushes me the same way. It’s great.”
To help prepare both Winston and Petty for what to expect as a rookie quarterback in an NFL training camp, Whitfield set up a visit for the two QB prospects with former NFL QB and former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.
“He just gave us a lot of advice about what to expect, about how to handle everything,
especially going in as a rookie into a camp and what he expects as a coach in that scenario,” Petty said. “I thought it was a great play by Coach Whitfield. Anytime you get a chance to meet and talk to a guy who has been in it for four years and had a lot of success in it, that’s valuable.”
Petty realizes his draft stock could be hurt by NFL clubs’ fear of the unknown, but he’s hoping his commitment to the game convinces a team to pick him sooner rather than later.
“Honestly, it’s got to be hard for them to diagnose and project anybody really, because anything can happen,” Petty said. “For me, the best way I can say it is you’re going to guy who is passionate about football, loves football, loves to learn, loves to absorb. I think that’s what is hard to find on paper. I’m going to be on a team that loves me, and I will love them back. I’m going to give them all I’ve got.”