The Buffalo Bills could be approaching some history if rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman starts on Sunday against the New York Jets.
Both Tyrod Taylor and T.J. Yates remain in the concussion protocol, although they returned to the practice field on Monday. If Taylor is unable to go, Peterman would be in line to start the season opener.
Peterman was the 171st pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. Only three quarterbacks drafted 100th or later since the merger have started Week 1 as a rookie:
- Our old friend Kyle Orton was the 106th pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, and started 15 games for the Chicago Bears. Orton wasn’t very good (he threw only nine touchdowns to 13 interceptions), but the Bears leaned on running back Thomas Jones and the league’s top scoring defense to finish 11-5.
- Dak Prescott was picked at the back end of the fourth round, 135th overall, by the Dallas Cowboys last year. An injury to Tony Romo forced him into action, where all he did was lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the first seed in the NFC playoffs while making the Pro Bowl.
- The record holder in this category? The immortal Randy Hedberg, who was drafted 196th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1977. If you know your NFL history, you know that would place his starts right in the middle of the Bucs’ NFL-record 26-game losing streak. Hedberg started four games that year and played in seven. The Buccaneers did not score a touchdown while he was on the field, and were shut out in four of his seven appearances. He never played in the NFL after that year.
The Bills have started a rookie out of the gate twice since the merger (not counting Jim Kelly, who was coming off a stellar run as a pro in the USFL in 1986). EJ Manuel started as the 16th pick in 2013 after a concussion ended the career of projected starter Kevin Kolb, and Joe Ferguson was drafted 57th overall when he took the team over from Dennis Shaw in 1973.
The circumstances are understandable, and Peterman showed plenty of promise (along with plenty to scrutinize) in the preseason. That said, it would be nearly uncharted territory if the Bills opened the regular season with the fifth-rounder starting things off.