There was a point during the college football season when LSU’s Zach Mettenberger awed scouts and NFL teams alike so much so that the quarterback looked like a potential first-round selection.
Of course a torn ACL at the end of the season dampened Mettenberger’s draft stock a bit, and the former SEC standout is now seeming to be more and more like a second-round selection, but perhaps a bargain for team’s that could afford a quality backup or a rookie to compete for the starting job.
The 6-foot-5 signal-caller has prototypical NFL quarterback size and a cannon for a right arm, and he excelled in a pro-style offense in college under Cam Cameron. Mettenberger improved throughout his stint with the Bayou Bengals, and it was especially evident during his senior campaign as he finished as an Associated Press All-SEC Honorable Mention after finishing third in the nation in passing efficiency (171.4) and third in the conference in yardage (3,082).
The main question marks surrounding Mettenberger will be how much he can do during the NFL Combine or at his LSU Pro Day, and then during rookie minicamps and training camp.
At one time, Mettenberger was ranked ahead of Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, and even now scouts don’t consider there to be too great of a gap between Carr and the “second-tier” of prospects at the position. But while Carr may come off the board in the first round or early in the second, Mettenberger may be a third- or fourth-round selection.
Mettenberger is the fifth-ranked quarterback by ESPN Scouts Inc. and sixth by CBS Sports. According to NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., he’s the No. 6 quarterback behind Carr (No. 4) and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron (No. 5).
So where will Mettenberger fall? How about to a team not desperate for a starting quarterback, but to one that could afford to a prospect with high potential at the position?
The St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets all come to mind. The Rams are set with Sam Bradford, but there are certainly questions about the former first-rounders’ durability and ceiling in the NFL. The Browns just hired Mike Pettine to be their new head coach, but does he want Brandon Weeden to be his guy? And what about in the desert — Cards head coach Bruce Arians may have already hinted in some interest in Mettenberger. And in New York, the team could be in the market for a backup to Geno Smith or just somebody to push him heading into his second season.