The Aaron Rodgers era is alive and well in Green Bay, but that doesn’t mean the Packers are limiting their options in the 2015 NFL Draft. Reports surfaced Thursday that Green Bay invited former Baylor signal caller Bryce Petty to a pre-draft visit. An unnamed source told Scout.com’s Packer Report about the invitation, and ESPN later confirmed.
Among their many needs, including another pass rusher and a cornerback to make up for the losses of Tramon Williams and Davon House during free agency, quarterback was not previously considered a high priority for the Packers given Rodgers is fresh off his second first-team All-Pro season.
However, Green Bay currently has only fifth-year back up Scot Tolzien on the roster after opting not to re-sign long-time reserve Matt Flynn. As one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the league, Rodgers is signed through 2019, but Tolzien will be a free agent after next season.
Other than Rodgers and Flynn, the Packers haven’t exactly picked quarterbacks well in the draft. Since 2006 Green Bay’s selected four passers, including Flynn in the seventh round in 2008, but no others have panned out as a serviceable backup to Rodgers.
Green Bay and general manager Ted Thompson have nine total picks to spend in the April-May selection process, including three in the sixth round. CBS Sports projects Petty to fall somewhere in the third or fourth round, a place that represents tremendous value to the Packers since Rodgers is still in MVP form and figures to remain there for at least another five years.
But Petty does have the potential to not only make the roster but serve as a solid backup or better. Registering at the NFL scouting combine at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds with 10-inch hands, Petty displayed not only the desired measurements of a pro quarterback but the physical tools as well. He was a top performer among quarterback prospects in the vertical and broad jumps, and the three-cone and 20-yard shuttle drills.
Yet its Petty’s work at Baylor over the last two seasons that could make him a Packer next season. Petty went 22-2 as a starter, with the Bears ranked as high as No. 3 in the country, while completing 62.5 percent of his pass attempts for 8,195 yards and 62 touchdowns compared to only 10 interceptions. He also set a Cotton Bowl record with 550 yards passing and three touchdowns.
His 4.87 time in the 40-yard dash does lead scouts to question Petty’s mobility outside of the pocket, and within Green Bay’s offensive system it could also be an issue. Rodgers makes as many big plays from the pocket as he does extending them with his scrambling abilities, and if Petty’s movement is limited it could lead to poor decision-making and ineffectiveness.
According to NFL.com, scouts are also questioning if Petty’s success at Baylor had more to do with head coach Art Briles' system, but do point out he’s displayed solid accuracy on his deeper throws downfield.
UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson are ranked just above Petty, but Pro Football Talk suggested Petty could move up as high as the second round. Its unlikely Green Bay would select Petty that high, but if he slips Rodgers could have a new backup in 2015 and beyond.