1) What are the pros and cons to his game?
Peterman really doesn’t make too many mistakes but is also a little more than a game manager. I’ve seen other guys at Pitt that were strictly game managers without the ability to make throws and Peterman isn’t that. He limits his mistakes (as evidenced by his 27-7 TD/INT ratio) and will also go out and make a big throw or even a play with his legs. I wouldn’t say he excels in arm strength or as a scrambler, but he does a lot of things well. That’s maybe the biggest negative in that I don’t know that he excels in any one thing outside of his decision-making. Overall, he’s a very solid quarterback.
2) What sort of offensive system do you think would fit him in the pros?
He worked under the pro set offense here at Pitt so he doesn’t come from any strange system designed only for college football. Pitt did do many innovative things last year under a new offensive coordinator Matt Canada (who has since left for LSU) but the offense, at its core, is a pro style offense. One of the things I thought was great about what he accomplished this year was that he had a big season without an elite receiver. Pitt really had major question marks at receiver but Peterman still managed to throw for nearly 3,000 yards in an offense that relied heavily upon the running game. If Pitt was forced throw more, he could have had an even bigger year but the running game was very strong. He did quite well for not having a 1,000-yard receiver. It’s also worth noting that he played for two different coordinators at Pitt and at least three in total over his college career since he started at Tennessee. Despite that and working in different systems, he still played well these last two years.
His yardage numbers may be slightly deceptive in that he had some athletic playmakers take short passes and do a lot with them. But as he proved playing in Pitt’s upset win over Clemson, he’s very capable of hanging with big-time defenses in college and he connected on several long balls this year.
3) Do you think he can be a serviceable NFL backup QB?
Yeah, absolutely. I’m not exactly sure what his ceiling is and I don’t know that he’s a lock to ever be a starting quarterback. But I think he has the tools to certainly be an effective backup and maybe more. Getting him that late, too, makes it a great addition for the Bills. He was projected by some as a possible 3rd round guy so to pick him up in the 5th makes it much less of a gamble.
4) What are things he needs to work on?
His arm strength is probably the biggest question but I don’t know how much he can really improve that. Maybe he tweaks his mechanics a little bit. Overall, the biggest thing will just be adjusting to the NFL pace of play. As I said, in college ball, he didn’t really have egregious weaknesses. Didn’t throw too many picks. Didn’t hold the ball too long and take ridiculous sacks. Didn’t make poor decisions. Now it’s just a matter of finding out if his physical abilities are good enough for the pro game.
5) I’ve seen a few experts compare him to Kirk Cousins. Do you agree with that?
I think that’s a reasonable comparison, but of course it’s prefaced by the fact that Cousins has actually proven it in the NFL. He’s not a wildly successful guy that will go out and blow you away with his numbers. But he’s a very capable player that will do more than simply keep teams in games. In that sense, I’d say the two might be similar.
6) Anything else you’d like to mention about him involving big games or stats we may not know about?
Not so much with regards to stats or anything but I did want to add that Peterman came here with a lot of questions and won people over. Pitt was fresh off a decent year with ex-quarterback Chad Voytik poised to take over the program. The Peterman transfer, on paper, looked sort of like a head-scratcher because to a lot of fans, Voytik looked like he had the job locked up for two more years. Voytik, though, was on a tight leash by the new coaching staff and was benched pretty quickly. A lot of people, including myself, didn’t think he got much of a fair shake here after waiting his turn to start.
Peterman had a lot of people against him and I’m sure some teammates that had been with Chad were even initially a little skeptical. But he came out and really silenced his critics. The coaches clearly knew what they were doing. Peterman excelled and got better while Voytik went to the Sun Belt and even struggled there, losing that job, too. It would have been easy to fold under the pressure but he performed well in his first year and did even better in his final one. There are never any guarantees in this game but if Peterman developed into a starter at some point, I would not be too surprised.
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