Boise State Senior
40: 4.60 (estimated)
Has excellent hands and ball skills. Goes and gets ball. Will lay out for passes and has good body control. Does a good job using his size to get position over the middle and make catches in traffic. Uses his body well to shield defender and does a good job on comebacks and slants. Is a decent blocker that is able to spring the runner on the second level, but is able to use his size against smaller corners. Is a solid contributor on special teams, as he can block punts, and also works as a holder on field goals.
Lacks speed and burst. Struggles to separate from defenders, and not a factor down the field because he lacks a second gear. Needs to polish up his route-running and get a better release off the line. Will have some lapses in concentration, dropping some balls and doesn't always secure the ball after the catch leading to some fumbles. Needs to improve his blocking and will miss some blocks in space. Not as physical there as someone his size should be.
Pettis is the chain mover in Boise State's offense that shines on third downs and in the redzone. Had his best year as a senior with 71 catches for 951 yards (13.4 avg) and 10 touchdowns. Also had a strong junior year, catching 63 passes for 855 yards (13.6 avg) and 14 touchdowns. Was not a full-time starter, but was their second leading receiver in each of his first two years, combining for 95 catches for 1032 yards (10.9 avg) and 15 touchdowns.
Pettis inability to separate is the biggest negative to his game. But his size, ball skills, and ability to get position against the defender makes him still an effective receiver. To impact at the next level, he'll have to improve his route-running and if he can polish his game there he can be an effective chain mover and starter. More than likely, he'll be a No. 3 receiver rather than a true starter. The player I would compare him to is someone like Jordy Nelson and he can be a guy that can catch 50-60 passes eventually, but his first few years he'll be a nice reserve, but not a great one. He'll work best in an offense that uses a lot of 3 and 4-wide sets and like Nelson, he won't be relied upon to be a go-to guy. But he can move the chains and has potential as a starter, but likely will only come if he plays in an offense where he is playing opposite a dynamic No. 1 guy like Calvin Johnson or Andre Johnson that draws double teams. And the fact that he is only a 50-catch receiver isn't a major liability. Pettis should have a long career because his special teams ability will always get him opportunities as a reserve. The key with him sticking in one place for a long time is if he can develop a strong rapport with his QB like he had with Kellen Moore at Boise State. If he establishes a psychic connection with a quality passer, then he'll be a trusted third down and redzone option and be able to play many years with a passer.
Pettis could have a future as a starter in Atlanta. He would be able to impact quickly as a reserve because he can fill a similar niche as Brian Finneran and be able to help move the chains for the Falcons and has the size to work the slot and middle of the field as a rookie. But if he develops a good rapport with Ryan early on, he should be pushing Jenkins for his starting job by the end of his second year or third year. He would be a nice No. 2, if he improves his blocking and route-running, but his production probably wouldn't be much higher than that of Jenkins in the Falcons offense. But he would be a bit more reliable and be much more of a factor on third downs. He would make a nice reliable complementary option to White, but he wouldn't be able to upgrade their ability to generate explosive plays.
For the right team who is looking for a reliable possession wideout to be a No. 2 or No. 3, he is worth a look late in the second round, but is more in line with the talent in the third round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
After Catch: 2.0
Body Control: 4.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.