If there is one team that should be prepared for a Nathan Peterman start, it’s the Chicago Bears – who scouted him extensively in the pre-draft process before ultimately deciding to draft Mitch Trubisky to address the long-term starting quarterback position.
And no matter how you might feel about the most polarizing quarterback in football, at least Trubisky isn’t Peterman.
Peterman has thrown more interceptions (9) than touchdowns (3) in just seven games of action. On a percentage basis, Peterman is three times more likely to throw an interception than he is a touchdown. Which means there is a decent possibility the Bears will come up with at least one picked-off pass if Peterman drops back and throws it 30 times on Sunday.
But to be fair, Peterman wasn’t always the mistake-prone turnover machine we have seen at the NFL level. In fact, there was a time when Peterman was a popular draft prospect. More than that, the idea of Peterman being a feasible option to be the Bears’ long-term solution at quarterback wasn’t all that far-fetched. Which, in hindsight, is a bit scary to think about.
Peterman was Pro Football Focus’ fifth-highest-graded quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft class. We went through the candidates here in the days before the draft. The Bears should know Peterman like the back of their hand because they scouted the heck out of him during the pre-draft process with a ton of the heavy lifting being done at the Senior Bowl. It was all part of GM Ryan Pace’s process, in which he made finding a long-term solution at quarterback a priority.
If you’ll recall, Chicago’s coaching staff was in charge of running the North Team at the 2017 Senior Bowl that featured Peterman as one of its quarterbacks. The Senior Bowl was viewed as a showcase for Peterman, who set out to embrace the opportunity and impress the Bears and going as far to say “It certainly would be a great opportunity to go up to Chicago and play for a great, storied program.” From there, Peterman would go on to meet with Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggains and get a first-hand look at the Bears offense (which wasn’t as fun as the Bears’ current offense run by Head Coach Matt Nagy and Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich). And if that wasn’t enough, the John Fox-led team had attempt a game-high 23 passes when the game was played.
Peterman showed enough in his Senior Bowl performance to find a spot on the periphery of the Bears’ draft conversation. So much so, there was a case made by draft gurus for Peterman being the best fit for the Bears. Peterman was a battle-tested college quarterback with extensive experience in pro-style offenses, which made him attractive to some teams. On top of that, early rankings had Peterman higher on that draft board than you might have otherwise expected. ESPN had Peterman at 91st overall, ranking ahead of Patrick Mahomes … you might’ve heard of him. That opened up debates on valuing pro-level readiness and talent, which landed us here:
“Of course, the risk here is the Bears pass on a more talented quarterback in favor of one with a grasp of pro style offenses, but who doesn’t have the talent or skill to be a short or long-term fit. That would hurt the Bears on two fronts and is the kind of scenario that would set the franchise even further back than it already is at the quarterback position. In any case, the Bears will be taking on some kind of risk no matter what direction they go at quarterback.”
As we moved away from the Senior Bowl and deeper into draft season, the love for Peterman continued to flow. One scout went as far to tell Bleacher Report college football analyst Matt Miller that Peterman had a Dak Prescott vibe to him. This was a bold stance for 2017, seeing that Prescott led the Cowboys to the NFC’s best record as a rookie fourth-round pick. To be clear, Peterman wasn’t expected to lead that kind of charge right away. Instead, scouts saw Peterman as a mid-round pick who could start early for their respective teams. And hey, both starred at the Senior Bowl after multiple years as starters for power conference schools. It could totally work. (Off-screen narrator: It hasn’t worked at all).
(And before we jump on Miller, he was ahead of the game when he mocked Trubisky to the Bears with the third overall pick in February that year. Tip your cap when the time is right.)
The Buffalo Bills haven’t revealed whether Derek Anderson or Nathan Peterman is going to start Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, but if any team should be well-situated to defend him, it’s a team whose QB coach worked with him at the Senior Bowl and whose Defensive Coordinator schemed against him during practice for a week leading up to the biggest audition of his life.