If the NFL playoffs began today the Buffalo Bills would qualify as the sixth seed in the AFC, yet despite the team’s 5-4 record head coach Sean McDermott decided to make a surprise change at quarterback.
McDermott announced Wednesday morning rookie Nathan Peterman will get the start in place of Tyrod Taylor Sunday when the Bills visit the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Nathan Peterman is a great guy and I wish him the best,” a disappointed Taylor said. “I still want to see this team do well so I’ll be there for him and our team.”
Wednesday’s news had many football fans in shock and others wondering who the heck this Peterman character is.
Here’s a closer look at the Bills rookie pivot…
Name: Nathan Peterman
Place of birth: Jacksonville, Florida
Weight: 225 pounds
40 time: 4.82 seconds
Drafted: Fifth round, 171st overall in 2017
He has impressed in limited NFL action
Peterman made his official professional debut this past weekend when he replaced Taylor late in a 47-10 pummelling courtesy of the New Orleans Saints. He completed seven of 10 pass attempts for 79 yards and threw his first career touchdown.
He also fared well in four pre-season appearances, completing 54.4 per cent of his passes for 453 yards, one TD and no turnovers.
“Nate’s a mature kid. He’s kind of wise beyond his years,” Bills centre Eric Wood told Good Morning Football back in early September. “He gets the ball out fast. He does a lot of things better than rookies I’ve been around in the past. He still needs time to grow. He’s gonna grow into a good NFL quarterback I’m sure but he had a great pre-season. I’m excited to have Nate Peterman on our team.”
He wasn’t mind-blowing in college but sure had his moments
Peterman began his college career with the Tennessee Volunteers in 2013 after being a four-star recruit out of Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns, Fla., but barely saw any action as a freshman or sophomore.
He transferred to the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 and became the team’s starter early that season. He threw for 2,287 yards, 20 TDs and eight interceptions as a junior then 2,855 yards, 27 TDs and only seven picks as a senior.
When talking about Peterman’s college career, one game against Clemson will always be referenced. Pittsburgh was the only team to beat the national champions in 2016 and Peterman was the main reason.
Deshaun Watson completed 52 of 70 pass attempts for an absurd 580 yards in that game but Peterman made fewer mistakes and threw five touchdown passes en route to a classic 43-42 victory.
He’s on the Bills partly thanks to Tony Romo
Most people forget this because he never made an impact on the field, but Matt Cassel was briefly a member of the Bills in 2015. He was signed to compete for the starter’s role that year but was beaten out by Taylor. Cassel was then traded to the Cowboys when then-Dallas starter Tony Romo suffered a broken collarbone. In return for Cassel and a 2017 seventh-round pick the Bills received a 2017 fifth-rounder. That pick was used to select Peterman.
He’s viewed as a potential steal from the 2017 draft
The 2017 draft class was considered a relatively strong one for quarterbacks. Mitchell Trubisky (second overall to the Bears), DeShone Kizer (52nd overall to the Browns) and C.J. Beathard (104th overall to the 49ers) have all started games as rookies, Watson (12th overall to the Texans) was an MVP candidate prior to his season-ending knee injury, while Patrick Mahomes II (10th overall to the Chiefs) is considered the future in Kansas City.
Some scouts believed Peterman, despite being chosen after all those mentioned above, could perhaps emerge as the best from the draft class.
ESPN’s NFL Draft Expert Todd McShay said back in May he thought the Bills had a good one in Peterman.
“He’s the most pro-ready of all the quarterbacks in this class,” McShay wrote in an Insiders column. “Peterman throws with great anticipation and showed the ability to handle a lot of pre-snap responsibilities in Pitt’s scheme. I was on the sideline when Peterman went into Death Valley and threw five touchdowns to hand eventual national champion Clemson its only loss of the season. Peterman played with great poise in that hostile atmosphere.”
He has drawn some lofty comparisons
Some scouts lumped Peterman into a group with Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott and even Tom Brady in terms of franchise quarterbacks that fell outside the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
Peterman’s NFL.com prospect page compared his on-field abilities to Washington Redskins starter Kirk Cousins, saying his “experience in a pro-style passing attack gives him a head start headed into the league. His physical attributes are just average, but his accuracy, composure and anticipation are what sets him apart from some of the more physically gifted quarterbacks in this year’s draft.”
Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft expert, Matt Miller, said “he’s athletic enough to move around the pocket and shows the athleticism to make passes to intermediate and deep areas from the go” before comparing him to Jimmy Garoppolo.
A positive sign for Bills fans — and one that points to Peterman’s maturity — is the fact he’s not paying much attention to what others say about him, especially when they make comparisons.
“I don’t really compare myself to anybody,” Peterman told the Buffalo News back in May. “I think I’ve had a good background. I’ve been taught very well, but there’s always things to improve on, so coming in here, it is a new offense. I’m just soaking up every word [the Bills coaches] have been saying, and just trying to learn it as fast as I can.”
He is a master of the trick shot
Peterman is an even more accurate passer than his 60.1 collegiate completion percentage indicates. He even gained some notoriety earlier this year when a video of him making trick shots went viral.
If he can’t find Jordan Matthews in the slot or Kelvin Benjamin in the corner of the end zone, however, Bills fans won’t care how many fountains he can throw over.
Still, this is pretty impressive.