For the second straight year, the Buffalo Bills have used a Day Three draft selection on a quarterback. With the 171st overall selection, the Bills used their fifth-round selection on Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman.
Peterman spent the past two seasons with the Panthers after transferring from Tennessee. A 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect, the 22-year-old Peterman's highlight of his final college season was in their upset over the eventual college football national champion Clemson Tigers.
By drafting Peterman, the Bills now have five quarterbacks on the roster. The rookie joins Tyrod Taylor, T.J. Yates, Cardale Jones, and Josh Woodrum on the team's depth chart.
With the selection of Peterman, it's the first time the Bills have used a draft choice on a quarterback in back-to-back drafts since 1985 and 1986, when they selected Frank Reich (3rd round, 1985) and Brian McClure (12th round, 1986).
Joe B's Take
This is a great pickup for the Buffalo Bills at this point of the draft for one very important reason. Though you have some concerns with Peterman -- hence, the reason he dropped into the fifth round altogether -- the Bills using the selection on the quarterback signals a changing of the guard in draft philosophy over at One Bills Drive.
Over the years, even without a defined starter at the most important position in the sport, the Bills have essentially neglected that spot on the roster in the draft. Starting with the 1995 NFL Draft, the Bills have selected only six quarterbacks over the span of 22 years.
In my opinion, it is critical to the long-term success of a franchise to continue to select quarterbacks in the NFL Draft -- even if you already have a franchise-defining player at the position.
As for Peterman as a prospect, I had him rated as my fifth-best quarterback in this year's class.
He's a solid developmental type that provides a strong arm, toughness, and an ability to manipulate a defense with his eyes. Peterman's timing and accuracy are very good when he's got some time, and he's willing to step into a throw -- even if it means he's going to take a huge hit from the defender.
Now, he can get a little better at maneuvering in the pocket, but you have to like how he just doesn't settle for the underneath throws during a game. That can get him into trouble, but the short stuff was usually the last of options in the games that I watched. His accuracy tends to dip when he really gears up, but there's a lot to like out of a player that you could get outside of the first round.
Now, you also might be asking, what does this mean for quarterback Cardale Jones?
The team's fourth-round selection in 2016, Jones spent the majority of the season tied to the inactive list as they tried to develop him over the course of the year. At the first glance, bringing in Peterman does not bode well for Jones.
However, I don't believe they're writing him off just yet. I would expect Jones, T.J. Yates, and Nathan Peterman to all compete to be the number-two quarterback this summer -- with it being more likely that Peterman ends up as the third-string quarterback in his rookie season to afford him some development time.
I also wouldn't rule out the notion of keeping four quarterbacks on the roster, just to give Jones another full year to see if he can develop into anything behind the scenes -- even if he loses the backup job to Yates. To me, I'd much rather keep a fourth quarterback on the roster than a random positional player that likely wouldn't dress on game day, and would be a candidate to be the first one released if the team needed to make a move.
If the Bills stick to the generally accepted roster protocols around the NFL, then it could spell some trouble for Jones. However, it's now up to him if he's going to make a mark in Buffalo. The opportunity is there for the taking this spring and summer.