As every Bills fan knows, the Bills quarterback situation since the departure of Jim Kelly in 1997 has been unsteady to say the least. The last quarterback to take the Bills to the playoffs was Doug Flutie in 1999. Since then, it’s been a mix of okay to mediocre guys under center, with the likes of players like Trent Edwards, JP Losman, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Fitzpatrick and even the year of Kyle Orton. The past two seasons, it’s been Tyrod Taylor under center, and the opinion of Taylor has fluctuated from love to even hatred at times. 2017 was the year for Taylor to finally make or break himself as the starting quarterback for a team starving for the playoffs. However, those plans were altered slightly when in Week 3 of the preseason against the Ravens, Taylor left the game after getting sacked and slamming his head on the turf. As of yesterday, Taylor still has not cleared concussion protocol and head coach Sean McDermott has not ruled out the possibility of rookie QB Nathan Peterman starting in Week 1. So, let’s take a look at Peterman.
Coming into the 2017 draft, Peterman was seen as having the abilities to one day be a starter in the NFL, but he was not quite at the level of the elite in the draft class. At 6’2” and 226 pounds, Peterman has the size to compete in the NFL. A 4.82 40 time can be seen in Peterman’s ability to move outside the pocket and make throws both short and deep on the run. His vision and arm strength have never been in question, and his low turnover rate is always an attractive feature. Last season, Peterman’s shining moment came on November 12, when Pitt knocked off then undefeated #2 Clemson 43-42 on the road, in a game in which Peterman threw for 308 yards and 5 touchdowns. That was Clemson’s first and only loss, as they went on to win the national championship. The problem for Peterman is often times his accuracy. He completed just over 60% of his passes in college at both Tennessee and Pitt and as this problem has been seen in three preseason games, as Peterman has completed just 50% of his passes. Also, when under pressure Peterman has been atrocious, and through the first two games of his career he has gone 1 for 16 under pressure and 8 for 20 when blitzed, according to Pro Football Focus.
With Tyrod Taylor potentially being out of the Bills opening matchup against the Jets, the idea of Peterman starting in Week 1 is both nerve-wracking and exciting. Scouts saw him as a 3rd round pick, and the Bills drafted him late in the 5th, a steal. ESPN’s Todd McShay even stated that Peterman was the Bills best draft pick. Thursday night against Detroit will be a huge one for Peterman, as he will get the start. Look for Peterman to settle in and try to complete passes at a higher rate. He will also be tested by a first team defense for the first time. All in all, giving the ball to a rookie in Week 1 is always a gamble that can hinder development of a young player, but at the same time could lead to a huge reward. In my eyes, Peterman looks like a young quarterback that is capable of possibly becoming the future of the franchise. However, if Tyrod Taylor is healthy I think it would be more beneficial for Peterman to take some more time to get used to the NFL before throwing him to the wolves. I believe the hype around Peterman in Bills Mafia may be slightly overblown due to frustration with the front office and with current QB Tyrod Taylor, but Peterman definitely has the tools to compete for years to come. In a Quarterback-heavy 2018 draft class, the Bills must start assesing what they have and what they need in the future.
(Photo creds: USA today)