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Quarterback Nathan Peterman is not ready to lead the Buffalo Bills in 2018

Add a talented rookie or a veteran presence. But don’t count on Peterman to run the show.

As the Buffalo Bills head into the 2018 offseason, it seems fairly clear that they could cut or trade Tyrod Taylor. Buffalo’s starting quarterback for the past three seasons was the man behind center when the team finally ended its accursed playoff drought, but through much of the last few years, Taylor’s chief contribution to the offense was to avoid taking risks and limit the offensive movement.

If Taylor is out of the picture in 2018, the next candidate to start would be Nathan Peterman, who started two games as a rookie while playing in four. However, Peterman isn’t ready to be a starting NFL quarterback, and might never end up as a successful starter.

Metrics don’t look kindly on Peterman’s rookie performance: two touchdown passes, five interceptions, 5.1 yards per attempt, 49 completion percentage. Since the year 2000, 17 quarterbacks have finished their rookie season with touchdowns on fewer than five percent of their passes, interceptions on more than five percent, a completion percentage of less than 50, and fewer than six yards per attempt. Peterman is a member of that list with Matt Schaub, Ryan Mallett, Josh McCown, Brett Hundley, and several players with very short NFL careers. As a fifth round pick, Peterman has to overcome the stigma of his draft slot just to get to the field, and he’ll face a quick hook until he can build a resume as a good starter.

The on-field performance matches the disappointing statistics. Peterman is exactly who he appeared to be during the preseason: He’s a smart quarterback who quickly makes decisions after reading the defense, but he sometimes trusts his initial read even when the defense was hiding its intentions, and he doesn’t have the arm strength to force all the throws he wants to make.

The other issue is that, especially if the Bills add a rookie quarterback, the team would be sorely lacking a veteran presence at quarterback if Taylor departs. At least some of EJ Manuel’s disappointing career could be attributed to the fact that he was forced to learn on the fly with Jeff Tuel and a rookie NFL offensive coordinator as his chief company, after Kevin Kolb’s career-ending concussion. Peterman has a mature personality, but he’s only just begun to discover the process of a full NFL season. He’s in no way prepared to mentor a rookie that joins the team.

From a talent perspective, Peterman isn’t in the same neighborhood as Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, or any of the other quarterbacks Buffalo could take in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He hasn’t produced enough to lay claim to the starting job in his second season, and he can’t set a strong example for a rookie while holding down the fort as he develops. If the Bills move on from Tyrod Taylor in 2018, they would be wise to prepare moves in anticipation that Peterman can’t handle the assignment next year.

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