Jets trade up to draft Bryce Petty, have QB in long-term plans

ByRich Cimini via ESPN logo
Sunday, May 3, 2015

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' unsettled quarterback situation became more interesting Saturday when they traded up in the fourth round to select Bryce Petty of Baylor.

Concerned other teams were trying to move up for Petty, the Jets gave up a seventh-round pick to move up only one spot, swapping places with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not convinced incumbent Geno Smith is the long-term answer, the Jets see Petty as the potential quarterback of the future.

Petty has "a high ceiling," according to Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan. But they also recognize he will need time as he attempts to make the transition from Baylor's spread offense to a pro-style system.

"We're not looking for him to be the starter right now," coach Todd Bowles said.

Petty was the fifth quarterback chosen, behind Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Garrett Grayson and Sean Mannion.

"That was the longest 48 hours I've ever had in my life," said Petty, who was projected in some mock drafts to go as high as the second round.

Petty will be added to a depth chart that includes Smith, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick (acquired from the Houston Texans) and Matt Simms. Bowles reiterated that Smith will go into training camp as the No. 1 quarterback, but there will be a competition. Fitzpatrick, who has experience in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey's system, is seen as a viable option for the starting job.

The Jets have been trying for years -- actually, decades -- to find a franchise-caliber quarterback. In fact, they've drafted six quarterbacks in the past eight years. Unlike Smith, who was rushed into the job in 2013, Petty will have the opportunity to watch and learn.

"There will be a learning curve," Maccagnan said.

Nevertheless, the Jets believe Petty, 23, has the tools -- mental and physical -- to become a starter. He passed for 8,195 yards in four seasons at Baylor, with 62 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.

"He has all the parts and pieces we think will make him a good quarterback in the NFL," Maccagnan said. "Time will tell what level of player he becomes."

Petty was seen by many evaluators as the third-best quarterback in the draft, so it had to be humbling to see four others drafted ahead of him. He insisted it didn't rattle his confidence.

"No, not at all," he said. "That's part of it, when people question you. My job is to prove to the 31 other teams what they're missing out on."

Smith, only 11-18 as a starter, is coming off another inconsistent season. By picking a quarterback in the fourth round, the Jets have someone who might be able to compete for the job in 2016.

The big question surrounding Petty is whether he can succeed outside an up-tempo, no-huddle offense. He took issue with critics who say he can't play in a conventional offense.

"It's all about the person," he said. "My desire is to be the best, regardless of what system I'm in. What I was asked to do in college was different, but it's not because I couldn't do a pro-style offense or a West Coast offense or whatever you want to call it.

"That's what I was told to do, so I did it. ... Being in another system is part of the game. I want to match what I did in college."

The Jets, under Gailey, will operate an offense that incorporates some concepts of a spread offense. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Petty took a pre-draft visit to the Jets and said he was "excited" upon hearing Gailey's plans for the offense.

"When I came up on my visit, we did a little bit of a mini-install and there was actually a lot of the same kind of dynamics or schemes that we had at Baylor," Petty said. "It was a lot of the same things we did at Baylor."

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