MOBILE, Alabama -- The chip was firmly planted on Bryce Petty's shoulder long before his introduction at last week's Senior Bowl. Phil Savage's comments a few moments before the former Baylor quarterback fielded questions for the first of numerous times during the week only exacerbated it.
Savage, the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, can be honest to a fault. Moments after he frankly said Nick Marshall would draw more attention from scouts if he made the switch from cornerback to quarterback -- he did less than a day later -- Savage said this year's crop of Senior Bowl quarterbacks were battling to be "No. 3," as in the third quarterback selected in the 2015 NFL Draft behind Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston.
Though there's little, if any, reason to disagree with Savage's assessment, the players whom he lumped together saw it differently. The last thing any quarterback wants to think about is settling for third.
"Like I needed any motivation to begin with," Petty said. "There was something said that I won't be anything but a career backup in the NFL. That's more motivation for myself. I have high expectations for myself, more than anyone could say about me."
Said Colorado State's Garrett Grayson: "Everyone knows Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are probably going to be the first two quarterbacks taken but as a competitor, all we're trying to do right now is be that No. 1 quarterback and get better and take that No. 1 spot. Until draft day, it's not official they're going to be the first two quarterbacks taken."
Let's assume for a second that Savage and pretty much every draft analyst are correct. At some point, one of these quarterbacks will be the third selected.
Who will it be? When will it be? And will the Browns be one of the teams in the market for one at that stage of the draft.
What transpired for a week at the Senior Bowl didn't exactly clear up any of those questions. Two years after Russell Wilson impressed with his confidence and one year removed from Derek Carr solidifying himself as the top senior quarterback, Petty, Grayson and the other four quarterbacks battled some inconsistency and understandable chemistry issues that surface when learning a new offense and playing with a whole new set of teammates.
For Petty and East Carolina's Shane Carden, the adjustment went one step further. While Oregon State's Sean Mannion, Alabama's Blake Sims and Grayson operated out of pro-style offenses at their respective colleges, Petty and Carden played in uptempo, spread attacks that rarely, if ever, lined up the quarterback under center.
Petty admitted it would be an adjustment, but one he'd be confident making. He was quick to brush off any comparisons to Robert Griffin III, the former Baylor quarterback who made a big splash as a rookie with the Washington Redskins but has struggled in recent seasons.
"Unfortunately (Baylor's system) is a knock, but at the same time, that's what I was told to do and I tried to do it to the best of my ability, and that's exactly what I want to do in the NFL," said Petty, who threw for 8,055 yards, 61 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in his two seasons as Baylor's starting quarterback. "Whatever system I'm in, I want to do it to the best of my ability."
Grayson said one of the main reasons why he opted to play at Colorado State was because of the Rams' pro-style offense. He was at the center of the Rams' turnaround over the past two seasons, as he completed better than 63 percent of his passes for 7,702 yards, 55 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Projected by most analysts as a mid-round selection, Grayson calls himself even-keeled but also exudes the kind of confidence that's allowed him to emerge as a legitimate NFL prospect out of a relatively under-the-radar program.
"Four or five years from now, I can be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL," Grayson said. "I don't mean that in a cocky way or anything. I'm just confident in my ability. I'm very excited to be here to prove it. I know a lot of teams, people around the country have doubts because I didn't play in a huge conference."
Mannion saw his production dip in a disappointing 2014 season but it wasn't enough to completely derail his draft stock. One season after throwing for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns, Mannion had 3,164 and 15 in a senior season that ended with a 5-7 record.
Mannion has the arm and measurables (6-foot-5, 227 pounds) NFL teams covet. Though he reportedly received a third-round grade after his junior season, it's uncertain where and when he'll land one year later.
One of the favorites to be the third quarterback drafted wasn't even at the Senior Bowl, as UCLA's Brett Hundley, who threw for 3,155 yards, ran for 644 and combined for 32 touchdowns, declined an invitation. Though he had a year of eligibility at UCLA remaining, Hundley would have qualified for the game because he graduated.
So does any of this discussion matter for Browns fans?
One day after coach Mike Pettine described the Browns' quarterback situation as "muddy at best" in his end-of-season press conference, general manager Ray Farmer said he'd treat quarterback like every other position on the roster. If Farmer viewed the player, regardless of position, as someone who could help the Browns win, he "would not hesitate" to use one of the Browns' 10 draft picks on him.
The Browns have drafted seven quarterbacks since returning as a franchise in 1999. Only once during that span did they select signal-callers on consecutive drafts (Luke McCown, 2004; Charlie Frye, 2005).
Farmer's analysis of the six quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl went far beyond the throws they made.
"There's a lot of pieces of this game that really come down to the natural competitiveness you see in a guy," Farmer said. "Those guys that want to work, those guys that are looking for extra reps, those guys that want to get in the game and take those chances and demonstrate what they can do."
This article is part of the Road to the Draft series, driven by Liberty Ford.