After waiting three days to be drafted, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty went quickly Saturday morning as the New York Jets took him with the fourth pick in the fourth round.
Petty was the fifth quarterback selected in the NFL draft and the first Baylor quarterback since the Washington Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick in 2012.
The Jets swapped their fourth-round pick and gave a seventh-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars to move up a spot to take Petty with the 103rd overall pick. The 6-3 Petty had been projected to be picked in the second or third round on Friday.
“That was the longest 48 hours of my life,” said Petty in a teleconference with the New York media. “I’m going to work to be the best -- starter, backup that’s up to the coaches. My job is to prove to the other 31 teams what they’re missing out on. I’m so excited to be a Jet right now.”
Petty and linebacker Bryce Hager were the only Baylor players chosen in the draft. Hager was a seventh-round pick by the St. Louis Rams. Several Baylor players are signing as free agents including receiver Antwan Goodley with Dallas, receiver Levi Norwood with Chicago and punter Spencer Roth with Buffalo.
Petty will join a Jets’ roster that includes former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, former Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and third-year pro Matt Simms. Smith passed for 2,525 yards with 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last year but the Jets ranked 28th in the NFL with 17.7 points per game.
It won’t be the first time Petty has had to work his way up the depth chart. At Baylor, Petty was a backup to Griffin and Nick Florence before getting his chance to start for the Bears in 2013, five years after he started as a senior at Midlothian High School.
During his two seasons as Baylor’s starting quarterback, Petty threw for 8,055 yards and 61 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions. He became the first quarterback in school history to lead the Bears to back-to-back conference titles as they went 22-4 over the last two years.
“I’m really pumped for Bryce,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “He’s always made the situation fit him. The Jets got a winner.”
Petty had hoped to be the third quarterback drafted after Tampa Bay chose Florida State’s Jameis Winston with the first overall pick and Tennessee took Oregon’s Marcus Mariota with the second pick.
New Orleans chose Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson in the third round with the 75th overall pick. St. Louis drafted Oregon State’s Sean Mannion in the third round with the 89th overall pick.
Petty met with the Jets two weeks ago and wasn’t surprised they drafted him. Petty felt comfortable after meeting with Jets’ offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
“I had a feeling that maybe something clicked there,” Petty told the New York Jets website. “When I went and met with the Jets’ staff and front office, I absolutely loved them. I told mom and dad when I got back how great they were, just the facilities, everybody. They’re just top-notch.
“When we went over stuff with Coach Gailey and (quarterbacks coach) Kevin Patullo, honestly a lot of the stuff was the same as far as schematically or concept-wise as what we did at Baylor. It was a good fit, so I was really excited about getting that call.”
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay believes Petty’s work ethic will pay off in the NFL.
“This is a long-term pick and he has all the physical tools,” McShay said. “From intangibles and a work-ethic standpoint, there’s not a better player in the draft. He’ll grind and do everything you ask for.”
Hager was a three-time all-Big 12 middle linebacker for the Bears who collected 309 tackles during the last three years.
He’s the second generation in his family to be drafted after his father, Britt Hager, was a third-round pick out of the University of Texas in 1989. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Denver Broncos and the St. Louis Rams during a nine-year NFL career.
Goodley will join former Baylor receiver Terrance Williams on the Cowboys. After an All-America junior year in which Goodley made 71 catches for 1,339 yards and 13 touchdowns, his numbers slipped during an injury-plagued senior year as he made 60 catches for 830 yards and six scores.
Norwood made 35 catches for 319 yards and two touchdowns as a senior and also returned punts and kicks. Roth averaged 43.4 yards per punt as a Baylor senior.