Nathan Peterman is a Developmental QB the 49ers Should Avoid

Nov 26, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Nathan Peterman (4) passes against the Syracuse Orange during the third quarter at Heinz Field. PITT won 76-61. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Nathan Peterman (4) passes against the Syracuse Orange during the third quarter at Heinz Field. PITT won 76-61. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

It is not worth the 49ers passing over the top quarterbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft to select Nathan Peterman in the later rounds.

Nathan Peterman’s rise in the draft in the process has seen him linked to the 49ers, and with him drawing comparisons to a quarterback Kyle Shanahan is apparently enamored with, that is perhaps not a surprise.

Pitt quarterback Peterman has been likened to Kirk Cousins, the subject of intense trade speculation regarding a switch from the Redskins to the Niners, and is among the many signal-callers in a class that divides opinion to be tagged with the particularly vacuous ‘next Dak Prescott’ moniker.

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Peterman is regarded as a strong developmental prospect who would be solid value in the mid-rounds but, while the numbers — a 61.1 completion percentage, 5142 yards, 47 passing touchdowns and just 15 interceptions since his transfer from Tennessee — support the improvement in his stock, the tape does not.

He has the ideal build for a pro quarterback, standing at 6’2″ and 226 pounds and NFL scouts will certainly have been intrigued by the composure Peterman displayed in the pocket.

Peterman, unlike many college passers, is more than willing to hang in the pocket and wait for receivers to come open, but also has the athleticism to escape and make plays with his legs and throw on the run.

As a passer Peterman demonstrates excellent timing, particularly excelling at leading receivers to the ball on throws down the seam, and can fit the ball into tight windows between multiple defenders.

He also has shown the capability to make far-hash throws to the sideline of 20 to 30 yards, however, it is when attempting those long passes to the flanks that the doubts over Peterman’s arm show up.

Peterman’s accuracy is highly inconsistent and he is most unpredictable on his throws to the sideline, with a long and loopy delivery making life for his receivers extremely difficult.

His problems in throwing the ball with consistent accuracy often arise due to a lack of continuity in his footwork. Peterman is perfectly capable of stepping into throws and delivering accurately, but too often he will not transfer his weight into simple short passes and miss badly.

Yet the biggest flaw in Peterman’s game, for someone who often appears so poised and has such a good touchdown-to-interception ration, is his decision-making.

Peterman, is far too willing to force balls into traffic when throwing on the run, with this play against Miami among the most egregious examples of that deficiency.

And, for all the calm he has shown in the pocket, there are a plethora of plays in which he leaves a clean pocket when receivers are open or when a rollout would have been a considerably better option, decisions that have regularly led to sacks or tackles for loss, such as this one against Penn State.

Peterman displays a lot of traits that are highly valued by NFL coaches and have led many to suggest quarterback-needy teams may be better off spending a mid-round pick on him rather than an earlier selection on one of the consensus top-four passers in the draft.

But Peterman’s lack of consistency in being able to make throws to the sideline is an issue that does not regularly bother the top quartet, and it is one that tempers his ceiling.

DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky, DeShaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes have all, at the very least, showcased instances of pocket maneuverability that suggest they could become top-level pocket passers at the next level and, while there are legitimate concerns over their decision-making, they have the arms to be able to make all the throws and consequently have much higher ceilings than Peterman.

Developmental passers are only worth investing in if you believe the player can develop into a franchise quarterback. Peterman’s limitations indicate he will at best develop into a middling starter prone to bad decisions.

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That would make the comparisons to Cousins accurate, but it also means that, if the 49ers are set on taking a passer in this draft, then they would be better served putting their faith in one of the top four, all of whom have a much better chance of developing into franchise quarterbacks.