By Chris Emma–
MOBILE, Ala. (CBS) — Opportunity knocks in the NFL.
Careers are made out of running with whatever chance one gets. Look no further than how quarterback Dak Prescott rose from fourth-round pick to leader of the 13-3 Cowboys in a short time.
Well before Prescott won the heart of Dallas — nearly a year to date from his first NFL playoff start, in fact — he was performing for the Cowboys coaching staff at the Senior Bowl. His rise, along with that of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, are fresh on the mind of Pittsburgh standout Nate Peterman.
“I’m trying to prove I can do the same thing and am worthy of the same things,” Peterman said Tuesday at the Senior Bowl.
Peterman spent 2016 knocking off eventual national champion Clemson, earning his MBA from Pittsburgh and getting married. Now, he’s out to prove he can be an NFL starting quarterback at the Senior Bowl. His chance will be critical, with Bears general manager Ryan Pace, coach John Fox, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and more watching to see if he’s worth their investment as they coach his North team.
Without pretending otherwise, Peterman acknowledged the Bears’ current quarterback situation. He understands there could be an opportunity in Chicago, with the team appearing ready to move on from Jay Cutler.
The Bears have spent the season scouting quarterbacks all across the country. Their best scouting look comes in Mobile with players like Peterman who get coached up by the Bears coaching staff and play within the team’s system for several days. Peterman has a chance to prove himself.
“I’m just trying to make myself the most attractive to every team out there,” Peterman said. “It certainly would be a great opportunity to go up to Chicago and play for a great, storied program.”
Peterman met with Loggains on Monday and got his first look at the Bears offense. He then retreated to his hotel and spent much of the night reviewing. Peterman wanted to make sure he’s brushed up for the week of practice.
The 22-year-old Peterman arrived at Pittsburgh as a graduate transfer from Tennessee, transforming the Panthers offense into a high-octane unit. It averaged 40.9 points per game in 2016, with Peterman completing 60.5 percent of his passes and throwing for 27 touchdowns against seven interceptions.
Adapting to a new school and team was difficult for Peterman, but he made the most of his transition and its challenges.
“I learned to have tough skin and just overcome adversity and have confidence in yourself,” Peterman said. “I think that’s pretty important.”
Peterman’s focus is now on the next level. He’s projected as a mid-round pick and viewed as the top quarterback at the Senior Bowl. This game has a way of elevating a quarterback’s stock. Peterman could emerge for the Bears and 31 other teams in Mobile.
First comes standing out in the crowd. That’s what Prescott and Wentz did last January.
“You just try to go out there and be yourself and be the best player you can be,” he said. “I think if you start focusing on everybody else, you get off track a bit.”