By Greg Gabriel–
Editor’s note: You can read Gabriel’s other scouting reports on highly regarded NFL Draft prospects by clicking here.
(CBS) If the Bears do nothing in the free agency or on the trade market to address their quarterback position, they’ll have to select one in the early rounds of the draft. Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky will go in the first round, and there’s a chance Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes could as well. If that happens, who’s next in the quarterback crop?
In my mind, it’s Pitt’s Nate Peterman. Out of all the quarterbacks in the draft, the Bears are most familiar with him, as their staff coached him at the Senior Bowl. After four days of practice and meetings and then the game, the Bears know exactly what Peterman can and can’t do.
Some say that the second round is too high of a slot to take Peterman, but if you like a quarterback and have a need for him, there’s a strong argument to just take him. If the Bears need a quarterback and don’t take one in the first round, then pass on Peterman in the second, you’ll know they weren’t impressed with him in Mobile.
Peterman has a lot going for him, as he has close-to-ideal size at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds with large hands measuring 9 7/8 inches. He played in an NFL-style offense at Pitt, with most of the plays coming from under center. In the Pitt system, he was able to change plays at the line of scrimmage as well as protections. Peterman is a smart player who can read defenses, go through a progression and makes good decisions. He has a quick overhand release that’s as quick as any quarterback in this draft. Once he makes a decision, the ball is out of his hand quickly.
For the most part, Peterman is an accurate thrower and shows good ball placement. He’s also a good athlete with quick feet and better-than-adequate speed. He can extend and make plays with his feet and has good running skills, and he can also throw the ball well while on the run.
On the negative side, Peterman doesn’t have a cannon for an arm. He has good arm strength and can easily throw the ball 50 yards, but he doesn’t come close to having the velocity of some quarterbacks in the league. As he gets in an NFL weight program, his arm strength will improve. Another concern I have seen is that even though Peterman has big hands, he doesn’t consistently throw a tight ball. This has to be corrected if he’s going to have to play in a place like Chicago, Buffalo or New York where the wind can be strong. If Peterman’s arm was a little stronger, he would be ranked with the top quarterbacks in this draft.
Peterman is an interesting prospect. He spent his first three years at Tennessee, then was a graduate transfer to Pitt, where he was a two-year starter. Peterman threw for 2,287 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2015 and then 2,855 yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2016. He took care of the ball really well, is said to have strong leadership skills and is a hard worker.
If there’s a player in the NFL whom Peterman can be compared to, it’s Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. Like when Cousins came out of college, Peterman won’t be ready to play as a rookie, but after a year of schooling, he should be ready to step in. I don’t see him becoming a franchise-defining quarterback but rather a player a whom a team can win with, especially if he is surrounded by good talent.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who is an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.