With just hours before the 2015 NFL draft kicks off, rumors are flying that Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota may not be the only quarterbacks taken in Round 1 this year. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, former Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is “flying up boards” with a “real chance he goes in Round 1.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 30, 2015
And who may his biggest suitor be? None but the New Orleans Saints, with Rapoport citing revelations included in the latest mock draft by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Saints pick 13th and 31st in Round 1. McGinn does not have the Saints taking Petty in the top-15, but they do have them selecting him at the end of the round, saying “The Saints worked out Petty in the last week and regard him as the best pure passer in the draft. Drew Brees, 36, will enter his 15th season. Petty has time to learn how to make reads and play from under center without having to play.”
Rapoport raised this possibility in November, saying, “My expectation from talking to several sources involved in the situation is that the Saints will draft a quarterback highly this year.” Meanwhile, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis did not completely rule out the possibility that the team could draft a quarterback this year, though he also stressed that turning away from Brees is not in their plans for 2015.
Via ESPN’s Mike Triplett, Loomis said on Wednesday:
“I think you’re always looking to get a young quarterback in the program. We’ve got one in Ryan Griffin that we like. And if an opportunity presents itself, hey, we may take another one here. But I don’t see the end for Drew Brees on the short-term horizon. At least I certainly hope not. But it does take time for these quarterbacks to develop. And we’re conscious of that. We evaluate the quarterbacks. And obviously if an opportunity presents itself to take one at the right time, we’re not afraid to do that.”
Brees’ five-year, $100 million contract with the Saints runs out after the 2016 season. He has a salary cap hit of $26.4 million this year and $27.4 million in 2016. But even with such a large cap hit next year, the Saints could be planning for life without Brees a year sooner than expected—especially if the Saints really are as interested in Petty as reported.
Petty completed 62.7 percent of his passes in four years in Baylor’s spread offense, for 8,195 yards, 62 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, the majority of which came in his two years as a starter in 2013 and 2014. A timing thrower with a strong arm, Petty still needs to evolve from a one-read quarterback into a well-rounded NFL prospect. A year—or two—of sitting behind Brees should help his development.
The Saints would be smart to look for their quarterback of the future. Though no quarterback the Saints could get in Round 1 would be worth starting as a rookie, they do have the time to develop one over the next year or two. Having a quarterback developed in-house is certainly preferable to the Saints hoping that they can can an instant starter in the 2016 or 2017 drafts.
The NFL draft yields many surprises, and one may just be a third quarterback taken in Round 1. But it’s a logical move for the Saints, given their interest in Petty is real.
Photo: USA Today Sports