“He is buttoned up all the way,” Gruden said, repeating a phrase he used when he had Peterman on set in Kissimmee, Fla. “He is sharp. He is in the channel, I think, of success. I think he’s going to be a real good pro quarterback. I just have a real confidence in that. He can memorize, he can execute any play you dream up, and he loves it. I’m smitten with him a little bit as a player.”
That’s not where the compliments started or ended.
First, Gruden was asked if he had to return to the sideline and be a head coach next season, which NFL draft prospect would he be most comfortable with under center right away?
“I like the kid at Pitt, honestly,” he said, adding that some of the underclassmen who declared for the draft may still be a year away.
“He’d allow us to do just about anything in the gameplan. I think he throws the ball pretty darn good, he’s athletic and very, very sharp. I think he’s a lot like Andy Dalton, to me. He reminds me of Dalton so much coming out of TCU. I’d probably go with Peterman, if I had to play him in a few months.”
So, what does that mean for Peterman’s stock entering the start of the draft next Thursday in Philadelphia? Maybe not a whole lot, given that Gruden will be on the stage rather than in a team’s war room.
But he thinks there will be three and possibly even four quarterbacks selected in the first round, citing Texas Tech’s Pat Mahomes, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson as the three most likely.
As for a fourth, he thinks, “There’ll be a sleeper somewhere along the road; I have no idea who it’ll be. It could be [Notre Dame’s DeShone] Kizer. Who knows, it could be Peterman.”
If Peterman were to make that forecast a reality, he would be Pitt’s first first-round pick since Aaron Donald went 13th overall to the then-St. Louis Rams in 2014.
Gruden mentioned the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints — who pick 27th and 32nd, respectively — as two franchises and offensive systems that could be a good fit for Peterman.
But in one more honk of the Peterman hype train, Gruden insisted that just about all 32 teams in the NFL could find use for his talents.
“I think any team in the league, you can cater your offense for Peterman,” whom Gruden said he has known for a long time, even going back to his first few years in college at Tennessee. “He’s a lot more athletic than people think. And he can handle an extensive amount of football, so the teams that are really ambitious with deep, thick playbooks, those are the teams that Peterman would fit in with. But I hope he gets with one of those guys that can really stretch him and challenge him.”
Peterman’s half-hour episode of Gruden’s show will debut at 10 a.m. Saturday morning on ESPN2.
Brian Batko: email@example.com and Twitter @BrianBatko.
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