I like the Nathan Peterman pick, and not simply because I'll never again have to listen to Buffalo fans telling me they should draft Chad Kelly. When you've been wandering through the quarterback wilderness for two decades, you take a shot at a franchise guy any time you can.
It's about time the Bills figured that out. They've picked a quarterback two years in a row for the first time in 31 years. Last year, they took Cardale Jones in the fourth round. Now they've doubled their chances to get it right with a long shot guy. Why not? It's not as if they've been hitting the bullseye on fifth-round picks over the years. Over a stretch from 2008-12, their fifth-round picks were Alvin Brown, Nic Harris, Johnny White, Ed Wang, Tank Carder and Zebrie Sanders.
Peterman has a lot to recommend him. He's accurate and comes from a pro style system at Pittsburgh. Last season, he threw for a career-high 308 yards and five TDs with no interceptions in a 43-42 upset at Clemson, the eventual national champion.
"He didn't do it by himself," said Bills head coach Sean McDermott. "But he went on the road and led his team to a win over the eventual national champs, and that's hard to do. The leadership part of the job at quarterback, as with all positions, is important as we evaluate the intangibles."
McDermott said he liked the fact that Peterman overcame adversity at Tennessee, where he broke his hand and lost his job before transferring to Pitt. He also likes the fact that Peterman is accurate and played in a pro style attack
"His ability to work under center was important to us," he said. "That's not something you see very often in the college game."
When I asked why Peterman was sitting there in the fifth round, McDermott said I should ask the other NFL teams. But when pressed, he acknowledged the questions about him.
"Maybe people look at adversity, what he went through at Tennessee as a negative," McDermott said. "We see it as a positive. You hear about the arm strength. Some people didn't like that. I know there's some pretty darn good quarterbacks who aren't throwing the ball through the drywall, but they're deadly accurate and they anticipate and they're keenly acute in terms of intelligence and leadership."
So the Bills have four quarterbacks on the roster: A veteran in his prime (Tyrod Taylor), a second-year guy (Jones), a rookie (Peterman) and a veteran backup (T.J. Yates). McDermott said he likes them all and feels the Bills are going to get the position right.
"They're going to compete, " he said, "just like the rest of the team. Nothing is promised to anything. That's why I started with this guy right here." He pointed to his own chest. "We're going to compete every day. I have to earn my spot."
Competition is a good thing. The Bills should keep four quarterbacks on the roster, let them compete and see how it plays out. The assumption is they'll go after a QB next year with their two first-round picks. Whatever the case, they should keep on trying until they get it right. Hey, if he doesn't get drafted, maybe they can bring in Chad Kelly.