I recently wrote a piece discouraging preseason overreactions. Disregard that piece for just a minute. Because I have an overreaction to share with you today.
On day three of the 2017 NFL Draft, talent scoured the boards. High-upside players were seldom in short supply. And the Redskins knew, with seven picks on the final day, they had to capitalize on the opportunity. And by all accounts, they did. Samaje Perine is projected to be a stud, regardless of his performance in week one of preseason. And Joshua Holsey has already made his case to be in the team’s rotation at cornerback.
Yes, by all accounts, the Redskins absolutely nailed every pick in this draft. But not by mine. It was a strong draft for the Redskins, but they failed to nab one very important prospect, despite having multiple opportunities to do so.
Nathan Peterman, formerly the Pittsburgh Panthers’ quarterback. Now creating a quarterback controversy in Buffalo.
The Bills selected Peterman, a quarterback who, according to some experts, could have gone off the board as early as round two, in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He was widely regarded as one of the safer picks in the draft, and possibly the most pro-ready quarterback in the class. But scouts and analysts alike were hesitant to commit to him, tabbing him as a high floor, low ceiling type of player.
The Bills brought him on as just that: A reliable guy who might develop. But if he doesn’t, he can still be an asset to the team in terms of depth, something the Bills have lacked at that position for years. Peterman had a nice training camp. Nothing flashy. Then preseason hit. And now the buzz around the backup couldn’t be any louder.
His stats don’t jump off the page. In two preseason games, he’s completed 23 of 45 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown, good for a 78.0 quarterback rating. But what really stands out are his traits. He has poise and awareness in the pocket, and he takes his time, displaying a patience well beyond his years. His throws, like the one seen above, have enough zip to get through the defense, but he can use dangerous touch as well, and on that throw above, he did something very hard: He used both.
Peterman doesn’t do this every snap. Even he’s had his fair share of low quality passes. But his positive traits stand out. He’s appears to be pushing Tyrod Taylor, who had a measly 12.0 quarterback rating in Friday’s preseason loss, for the starting job. The Bills had every intention of committing to Taylor after they jettisoned E.J. Manuel and Cardale Jones. Now they just have another controversy brewing.
The Redskins prided themselves on drafting traits prospects this year. In the fourth round, the team grabbed Montae Nicholson, a safety with impressive height and strength, known for his hard hits in college. Despite his lackluster film and apparent refusal to find consistency at Michigan State, Nicholson’s athletic traits were enough for the Redskins to grab him in the fourth round. Depending on who you talked to before the draft (including yours truly), Nicholson should have gone undrafted.
That selection stung, but Peterman remained on the board. And so the suspense continued to build. The Redskins had yet another chance to draft Peterman in the fifth round. Instead, they used that pick on Jeremy Sprinkle, a tight end from Arkansas whose traits (6-foot-5, 252, 4.69 40-yard dash) were far more appealing than his legal record (suspended in college due to shoplifting attempt). Sprinkle wasn’t a horrible pick. But the Redskins could have passed on Sprinkle and still gotten Virginia Tech tight end Bucky Hodges in the next round, and even Jacob Hollister in the next.
But the Redskins chose Sprinkle. And 17 picks later, Peterman went off the board.