2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Pittsburgh QB Nathan Peterman

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to examine as many prospects as possible and showcase both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

This is a showcase of Pittsburgh quarterback Nathan Peterman.

#4 Nathan Peterman/QB  Pittsburgh: 6’2 225

The Good:

– Great all-around mobility: evasive movements within the pocket, scrambles well for first downs, and attacks the line of scrimmage on rollouts (forcing defenders to commit to coverage or stopping his potential run).
– Toughness: Stands tall in the face of the heavy pressure and fights for first downs when running the football.
– Cautious passer who doesn’t force the football into tight windows. If his reads are cloudy, he is quick to tuck the ball and get positive yardage with his feet.
– Good football IQ: demonstrated ability to quickly identify the defensive scheme and take advantage
– Efficient and compact throwing motion with an over-the-top release. His delivery improved from 2015 to 2016
– Experience in a pro-style offense: comfortable taking snaps from under center and performing full-field reads/progressions
– Uses eyes to hold linebackers and move safeties
– Big Hand Size: 9 7/8 inches

The Bad:

– Struggles with accuracy on out-breaking routes
– Doesn’t take a ton of shots downfield
– Inconsistent footwork when throwing; sometimes has “busy feet” as he begins his motion
– Eyes and feet tend to get out of sync when scanning the field, sometimes leading to off-balance throws.
– Peterman did not perform any straight drop-backs when starting from under center; only play-action or sprint-outs.
– Lax ball security when running the football; leading to several fumbles
– Sometimes leaves the pocket before allowing a play to develop; potentially missing big-play opportunities
– Lacks elite arm strength
– Takes unnecessary hits by not sliding on running plays


– Career Passing (at Pitt): 24 starts (14 wins, 10 losses), 61.1% completion rate, 5,142 yards (214.3 avg.), 47 TD 15 INT.
– Career Rushing (at Pitt): 157 carries, 518 rush yards, 4 TD.
– Threw for 308 yards and 5 TD 0 INT in an upset victory over the eventual National Champion Clemson Tigers
– Senior Bowl Stats: 16/23 153 yards 1 TD 0 INT
– Began his career at University of Tennessee but transferred to Pitt after the 2014 season. Started the final 11 games for the Panthers in 2015 and every game in 2016.

Tape Breakdown:

– Nothing about Peterman’s game is super flashy or dynamic. His arm strength isn’t remarkable, he doesn’t have blazing speed, and he occasionally has lapses in accuracy. However, on the whole, there are a lot of positives about his style that suggests a hidden potential that could blossom in the NFL.

First, although he was sometimes early in his decision to tuck the ball and run, this should not imply that he was a skittish passer in the pocket. Instead, if Peterman sensed that his receivers were going to break open, he had no problem standing tall and delivering a strong pass. Second, it was easy to recognize that he took his film preparation seriously and acquired a nuanced understanding of opposing defenses. He trusted his pre-snap reads and was ready to adjust if things changed post-snap. Finally, Peterman’s athleticism will undoubtedly ease some of the growing pains that are sure to come at the next level. He can extend plays behind the line of scrimmage and can take advantage of a defensive breakdown. Examples of these positive attributes are shown below.

Here against Clemson, Peterman exhibits confidence in the face of heavy pressure and a good understanding of the Tigers’ defense. Pitt lines up in an empty set against Clemson’s Cover 2 look. On the snap, Clemson brings both the Sam and Will linebackers off the edges; signaling to Peterman that he has to get rid of the ball quickly since he only has 5 men protecting against the 6-man rush. He stays calm, immediately gets his eyes to the short side of the field and locates the corner. Because he knows that the corner will likely cover the flats in Cover 2 (and therefore squat on the slot receiver’s speed-out), he anticipates an open window and throws a nice catchable ball to his outside receiver running a vertical down the sideline. The ball is thrown on a shallow trajectory before his receiver turns around, thereby preventing the safety from becoming a factor in the play. Great recognition and perfect execution by Peterman, making a big-play look easy:

In this next play against Georgia Tech, Peterman again demonstrates poise in the pocket and good recognition/understanding of the defense. Pitt is running Double-Posts off of play-action against GT’s Cover 1. GT only brings a 5-man rush against Pitt’s 7-man protection, so Peterman knows he should theoretically have enough time to get the ball out. Immediately after the play-fake, he snaps his head/eyes to the safety and reads his movement. He remains calm in the pocket and when the safety honors the Inside-Post by staying in the middle of the field, Peterman rips a pass to his outside receiver, through a tight red-zone window, for a touchdown. Accurate ball placement away from the corner and great read on the throw:

Here is an example of Peterman’s athleticism and ability to extend plays with his feet. Pitt is running a bootleg to the wide side of the field. Although he is a little rushed in his play-fake; Peterman still does a good job of flipping his head back towards the field when he exits the mesh-point with the running back, he keeps both hands on the ball during his rollout, and keeps his eyes downfield. Additionally, the crucial feature that makes this play successful is the way that he attacks the line of scrimmage and forces the defense to commit to covering either the run or the pass. Peterman maintains a readiness to throw and pulls the trigger as soon as the defender tries to stop his potential run. Great play to pick up the first down:

Lastly, this plays against Virginia Tech illustrates Peterman’s quickness to tuck the ball and run if his reads are cloudy. Pitt is running an RPO and it’s difficult to tell whether he makes a bad read or if there was a blown assignment by someone else. Regardless, as soon as he feels uncertain, Peterman cuts his losses and tries to pick up positive yards on the ground. He shows good running ability, but also poor ball security (this is his second fumble of the game). He is fortunate he didn’t turn the ball over here, but still a good play overall:

– Overall, I think the best way to describe Peterman’s skill set and playing style is to compare him to a quarterback like Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs. Like Smith, Peterman is cautious with the football, doesn’t take a ton of deep shots, and is a threat to run if his first few reads aren’t open. Neither player has any serious flaws, but both are relatively uninspiring in their play. Peterman is (obviously) not as polished as Smith and will surely benefit from a few years of learning the NFL game from the sideline, but I think that eventually he could develop into a steady and serviceable starting QB if he lands in the right system.

Projection: Day 3

Games Watched: vs Georgia Tech (2015), at North Carolina (2016), vs Virginia Tech (2016), at Miami (2016), at No.2 Clemson (2016)

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad Kaaya

About the Author

Sean McKaveney

Sean McKaveney is currently a student at the UCLA School of Law and was formerly the starting Quarterback and Team Captain for Claremont McKenna College, a Top 10 Liberal Arts school in Los Angeles. Although he grew up in Southern California, Sean was raised as a diehard Steelers fan by his father, a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers are undefeated in games that Sean has attended.

  • Steelers12

    This qb class is dreadful

  • SFIC

    I wrote the same thing months ago and still feel the same way. There might not be a QB in this draft that is better than Landry Jones….seriously.

  • Ike Evans

    I cant believe peterman is considered a mid round prospect….unbelievable but….H2P

  • Steelers12

    i agree no need to waste a draft pick on a qb

  • Steve Johnson

    Day 3? Hmm! Late day 3 pick. The average O/L is 6’5, the guy is 6’2.

  • falconsaftey43

    6’2″ is plenty. Aaron Rodgets, Brees, Stafford, Wilson, Dalton, Carr, Prescott, Romo are all 6’2″ or less.

  • falconsaftey43

    I dont follow Pitt. Do you? How was he seen there?

  • T3xassteelers

    Mahomes is 🙂

  • Ike Evans

    I do……trash untill last year when matt canada came

  • budabar

    Looks like a poor mans Bryan Hoyer

  • Spencer Krick

    Pretty lukewarm on Peterman, but there are definitely worse QBs in this class.

  • francesco

    Saw a limited amount in the Senior Bowl game.
    Did not like what I saw.
    Mr. Interception.

  • Matt Manzo

    Starting to look that way!

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    I’m sure that the team knew this a year ago and yet passed on Prescott smh.

  • Steelers12

    i hope they pass on everyone this year

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    I’m all for planning ahead but none of these guys are starter material.

  • Douglas Andrews

    You’re right it is pretty bad. I’m a big fan of D Watson and Clemson but even he has his warts.

  • Steelers12

    Watson n kizer are the only two i would draft and we don’t have a shot at them. I would consider Jeremy Evans from vtech but that would be 6 or 7th round

  • LucasY59

    I agree the playing style comparison to Alex smith is a good one, and as long as he is not compared to Landry I am pretty good with him as a Steelers pick (especially since it should be a later rd pick)

    the Steelers have seen him at the practice facility through the yr, so I think they are more than familiar with him, so IF they make him their pick I am good with it (and since ARII said they are likely to pick a QB this draft I hope it is later in the Draft on a guy like Peterman or Dobbs)

  • LucasY59

    I think I remember the Steelers had some interest in Dak last yr (but would you rather have Hargrave or Prescott? most likely Dak would not have made it on to the field if he was a Steelers pick)

  • Rocksolid20

    Just like one of my favorite cities in Texas , El Paso .

  • Rocksolid20

    Maybe a 4th rounder ?

  • Rocksolid20


  • T3xassteelers

    LOL no, he’ll be late first, early 2nd

  • Rocksolid20

    No way he goes in the 1st .

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    They brought him in for at least one interview. I understand your view, I just feel that it’s a lot easier to get a mid round nose tackle than it is to get a franchise qb. There certainly appears to be none this time round.

  • LucasY59

    agree this yr looks bad for QBs, I think they wait till after Ben is gone before they find another franchise QB (would be pretty lucky to get one without a early 1st rd pick)

    I think Dak did well this yr (especially for a rookie) but I am not ready to declare him a franchise QB (I think a lot of his success was due to the other players on his team) I think he will be a good player, but I dont know if he will become a elite QB

  • T3xassteelers

    Haha you don’t follow much draft I see. I’ve seen every Mahomes snap in person and he’s going to be special. Go see what Matt Miller had to say on him. Go see what the predraft people said. He’s second round right now with potential to go in 1st.

    Do you even look at mock drafts? At least half of them have him going in round 1, the other half are round 2.

  • Rocksolid20

    And just whom do they have him going to
    in 1st ? It won’t be , NE , it won’t be Atlanta
    it won’t be GB , it won’t be Pitt , it won’t be
    Dallas , it won’t be KC . Just where do you
    and your MOCK drafts see him .

  • T3xassteelers

    I’ve seen him go to Buffalo at 10 on Walterfootball a few weeks back. I’ve seen him to Houston at 25. I see him to KC at 27. Mocks also don’t account for trades either. So, one of those teams in the early second (CLE, BUF, CHI) could all trade back into the first. NYG, NYJ, and yes, even PIT is a good spot for him.

    Point being, he DEFINITELY won’t make it to the 4th lmao. That’s about as likely as Myles Garrett falling that far. Second round being the absolute latest he goes. He’s going to kill the combine and interviews so that’s why he’ll end up in the first. Could be a top 10 pick, even. Not saying he WILL be a top 10, but he definitely COULD.

  • Brady is 6’2″ as well isn’t he?

  • I like having a guy who is a threat to run for the first down. At least in a backup who isn’t a great passer to begin with. Definitely adds an element to a less than stellar QB’s game at the pro level.