By Chris Losey
Quarterback Nathan Peterman seems to be the odd man out after the Buffalo Bills drafted Josh Allen and signed A.J. McCarron this off-season.
Allen was selected with the seventh overall pick just a week ago and figures to be the franchise quarterback if he pans out.
McCarron, who spent his first four seasons as a backup for the Cincinnati Bengals, was signed in free agency in March to presumably start right away and keep the seat warm for Allen.
So where does this leave Peterman?
He’s the one signal caller that was not acquired by general manager Brandon Beane, as Beane did not arrive in Buffalo until May of 2017, a month after last year’s draft.
Peterman looked fine in his rookie preseason, but far from ready to take over the starting role from then-incumbent Tyrod Taylor.
He eventually saw his first regular-season action in a week 10 loss to the New Orleans Saints, replacing an ineffective Taylor.
Peterman completed 7 of 10 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the 47-10 drubbing.
The strong debut gave coach Sean McDermott the confidence to give the rookie a start against a tough Los Angeles Chargers squad the following week.
Peterman’s first start was a disaster after he threw five first-half interceptions, whereafter he was replaced by Taylor.
On film, Peterman has a quick release and throws with nice anticipation. He sees the field well but has a few physical limitations. It was well-known that a fifth-round quarterback could rarely step in right away and be effective, but it almost reads as if the Bills are moving on from Peterman.
However, this is far from the truth. Peterman has been working with this coaching staff the longest out of the three quarterbacks on the roster and should continue to develop into a pro. While this can be contributed to coach-speak, both Beane and McDermott had positive things to say about Peterman. Beane even stated that this will be a three-way competition for the starting job in an interview with WGR 550.
Beane – Allen will come in as the No. 3 QB on the roster. McCarron and Peterman will be ahead of them. Allen has some catching up to do. If he ends up winning the starting job, he wins the job.
Peterman at this moment in time is much better at seeing the field and reading defenses than Allen, who could not do that consistently at the college level.
There’s always a chance that he can win the job over McCarron and Allen in 2018. Peterman has the skillset to excel in offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s version of the Erhart-Perkins scheme.
In any event, Peterman has the faith of the coaching staff, as McDermott was not afraid to start him against a tough Charger defense. It would be foolish to count him out, especially since his competition is a seriously underdeveloped Allen and an inexperienced McCarron.
Peterman needs to work on the speed of his decision-making and some of his lower-body mechanics. His base isn’t always set well, and he needs to work on strides in his dropback. When combined with his below-average arm strength, his passes tend to sail. Peterman can become a more controlled and effective passer if he and the coaching staff can fix these mechanics.
He’ll never wow people with his arm strength or athleticism, but Peterman can be an effective game-manager. If he puts it all together, he can develop into a Kirk Cousins-type player, though this is the absolute best-case scenario.
It’s imperative that he continues to improve and not get lost in the shuffle with McCarron and Allen. If he can show he mastered the offense better than the other two signal callers, he very well could be the starter for the 2018 season.