Weight: 235 pounds
In the race to be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL draft, a few names are tossed around. Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and even Jimmy Garoppolo have all been mentioned as potential first-round draft picks.
But there is one forgotten QB in the 2014 class: LSU’s Zach Mettenberger.
The talented senior underwent surgery on Jan. 2 after tearing ligaments in his knee during the Arkansas win on Nov. 29. Now, less than a month removed from surgery, he is already impressing with his progress.
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan, Mettenberger is going through dropback and agility drills so far without any issues.
In an exclusive interview with NOLA.com, Mettenberger had this to say: “I’m able to do a lot of agility drills, nothing full speed, doing lateral step ups at a pretty quick rate. Strength wise, my quad is getting back to where it was and overall my knee is feeling really good right now.”
At 6’5” and 235 pounds, the imposing QB possesses intriguing upside at the next level. According to NFL media analyst Bucky Brooks, Mettenberger "could be the wild card of the 2014 QB class. Prototypical size, arm talent and experience running pro system.”
While under the guidance of former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, Mettenberger saw significant improvement. He passed for 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions during his junior year before the coach's arrival. Once he was paired with Cameron, his production spiked, as he racked up 22 passing touchdowns with only eight interceptions.
Many experts figure him to be drafted somewhere in the second- to mid-round range, but they also seem to agree that his considerable potential as an NFL starter gives him more value than a typical second-day selection. One has to wonder whether this physically gifted quarterback would have been considered a first-round pick had he not been injured during his final season at LSU.
Nevertheless, I can’t see how a quarterback who grades out with starting potential and prototype tools could be drafted outside the top 40. We see this type of value inflation with quarterbacks quite often.
I think there’s a good chance Derek Carr drops much further than most anticipate in a similar fashion to what happened to Geno Smith last year. Mettenberger is the better NFL QB of the two.
Ryan Riddle is a former NFL linebacker and currently writes for Bleacher Report. To talk more about the NFL draft, follow him on Twitter