Possesses a very average first step off the line and isn’t a guy who has the type of second gear to consistently run by defenders at the next level. Lacks an ideal burst in and out of his breaks as well. Will struggle to consistently generate significant separation from man coverage and relies more so on his initial quickness and big frame to create plays for himself. Also, doesn’t consistently get off pressman initially off the snap, isn’t real sudden in tight areas and doesn’t display the type of physicality to routinely shrug off the initial bump.
Displays good overall body control and balance as a route runner, but gets a bit impatient at times and will begin to drift into his routes prematurely. However, has a good feel vs. zone, knows how to set up defenders using his head fake and balanced footwork and does a nice job working his way open on all levels of the field. Can be difficult to bring down after the catch. Isn’t real shifty, but plays big and can shrug off defenders initially and get up the field after the catch. Also, can play a key role on special teams, has a knack for getting after the football on punt blocks and acts as a holder on field goals.
Impression: Possesses a nice-sized frame, good body control and ball skills and knows how to work the middle of the field. Isn’t a real dynamic threat, but has enough talent to make a roster and contribute on an offense, possibly as a number two threat, but I see him more as a sub package guy."
Pettis used his long frame to rack up at least 45 receptions in each of his first two years and more than 60 as a junior (65-855-14) and a senior (71-951-10). He was also one of only five true freshmen to play for Boise State in 2007, scoring six times, and he finished his career as a two-time first-team All-WAC receiver.
Of course, it takes more than a big body to become a successful NFL receiver. Pettis lacks ideal speed for the outside and won't outrun anyone in a professional secondary. He has the natural athleticism, size and body control, however, to contribute as a sub-package pass-catcher. Still, he has work to do as a route-runner, and he'll have to hope a team is willing to take on his learning curve in the hopes he can be the big-bodied option to complement its speedy receivers.
Strengths: Tall, long frame with room to add bulk. Works over the middle very well while using his body to shield the ball from defenders. Has big, strong hands and can pluck passes in traffic. Shows a good feel for zone defenses and settles into open spots without drifting back into coverage. Possesses good body control and maintains balance in and out of cuts. Utilizes head fakes, sells defenders on the wrong route and has the strength to break tackles and gain extra yards after the catch. Focuses on passes and watches the ball all the way into his hands. Displays great concentration when fighting for jump balls and times his high-points well. Tracks the ball accurately while running and will sell out to make the catch. Is a willing blocker who can engage defenders with long arms. Excellent red-zone target.
Weaknesses: Sluggish off the line and takes too long to reach top speed. Allows too much recovery time for defensive backs when stopping and starting. Needs space to stride and accelerate, but still cannot run past defenders and possesses only average speed for the position. Lacks an adequate second gear to consistently get behind defenses and does not show ideal burst when coming in and out of cuts in his routes. Can be pressed and jammed at the line and allows defenders to control him early due to lack of physicality and quickness. Will tip his hand when running routes by drifting toward his destination. Gets sloppy with his footwork and lacks the route discipline to create separation in man coverage. Is not a shifty, quick-twitch athlete and struggles to make defenders miss in the open field. Overextends and loses leverage and balance as a blocker in the run game."
Austin Pettis, a relatively unheralded three-star wide receiver recruit out of Anaheim, California, in 2007, was a major factor in the Broncos’ success.
Pettis can be a reliable possession receiver as a pro.
He finished his four-year collegiate career with a grand total of 229 catches for 2,838 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Pettis has solid size for an NFL wide receiver at 6’3″, and is extremely reliable as a pass catcher. He has great hands, and has the ability to make catches in heavy traffic. He has decent speed for a player his size, and can work effectively against press coverage. He’s not afraid to go over the middle, where he does most of his damage. Pettis has very good body control, and is a very effective tracking the ball in the air. His size, hands and football IQ make him especially dangerous inside the red zone, as evidenced by his 41 touchdowns at Boise State. Pettis knows how to use his frame in a jump ball situation. He was able to develop a reputation as a strong leader for the Broncos, and is passionate about the game. Durability isn’t a question, as he suffered just one injury in college (a fractured leg in 2009), from which he was able to make a quick recovery.
Pettis doesn’t have extraordinary speed, and, as a result, isn’t much of a big play threat at the next level. He’s a nice possession receiver, but doesn’t have the elusiveness required to make many tacklers miss. He lacks much lateral quickness, and could certainly stand to improve his route running, which is fairly sloppy at times. He likely won’t be outrunning many cornerbacks in the NFL, and will need to rely on his size and physical tools in order to be effective as a playmaker. Because he played in the WAC, there are questions about the quality of his competition throughout the years. He’ll probably be a role player as a pro, rather than a game-changing superstar.
Pettis isn’t as highly touted as teammate Titus Young, but he can help his draft stock with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl. His rare combination of size and good hands will be intriguing to NFL scouts, and that will improve his chances of being taken fairly early on. Because he doesn’t do much to stand out above the rest of the receiving prospects, he seems like a player likely to be taken anywhere from the late second round to the fourth round of the draft.
NFL Player Comparison: Kevin Walter"
Negatives: Not very fast or explosive, solely a possession receiver... Slow getting off the line of scrimmage, struggles to beat press coverage... Marginal route runner, rounds off many of his cuts... Doesn't always come back to the football... Below-average after the catch, isn't going to run away from a defense and doesn't break a ton of tackles... Suffered a broken ankle in 2009... Will have to prove that his production wasn't a result of playing in Boise State's high powered offense... Limited potential with his lack of speed... Seemed to get outplayed by teammate Titus Young this year."
Strengths: Tough football player who is a proven producer as the Broncos' possession receiver. Extremely soft hands - catches the ball away from his body and able to make the difficult catches. Big target who has excellent body control and will win most battles with DBs; generally runs good routes and has the ability to find the 'soft spot' and get to it. Willing and able downfield blocker. Contributes on special teams on punt block unit and as holder - great team player.
Weaknesses: He lacks elite, break-away speed. Sometimes will round-off cut - needs to improve route discipline.
Projection: 3rd round, with potential for 2nd round consideration with improved 40 times."
Positive: Strong, dependable receiver who's been very productive on the college level. Tough, goes over the middle and extends to make the reception away from his frame. Takes a pounding and makes the tough catch in a crowd, holding onto passes. Uses his frame to shield away opponents. Gets vertical over defenders and wins out in battles. Makes the tough over-the-shoulder reception downfield. Flashes ability blocking downfield. Is a good special teams player.
Negative: One-speed receiver who cannot beat defenders down the field. Is an average route runner.
Analysis: Pettis has been a consistent force in the Boise State offense and is a sure-handed receiver who always comes away with the reception. He has the ability to produce on special teams, which adds to his value. Pettis is a solid top 100 selection with the ability to produce as a third receiver in the NFL."
Through seven games in 2010, Pettis is continuing his impressive receiving career. However, the 6-3, 203 pound Anaheim, California product does a lot more than catch passes. In a one minute span against Virginia Tech earlier this season, Pettis blocked a punt, caught a touchdown pass and stayed in the game to hold on the extra point. He has even thrown for a touchdown during his senior campaign. That is some impressive versatility.
Yet, it is Pettis' size that will make a quality receiver in the NFL. He is not a little wide receiver who catches short passes and then makes plays with his legs. While Pettis is certainly capable of racking up yards after the catch, Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore can throw the ball up to his big receiver and know that more often than not he will make a play."
As a 3rd or 4th Rounder, he would be a GIFT.
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