Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger and former Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan were among a group of 10 players who reportedly failed their drug tests at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
The top prospect on the list was Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who is projected as a mid first-round selection. Another big name was Louisiana State quarterback Zach Mettenberger. ProFootballTalk.com first reported that Mettenberger tested positive for having a diluted urine sample, which would count as a failed test under the NFL's drug program.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com later confirmed the report on Jernigan and Glazer added more details on his failed test:
Jernigan was diluted sample like mettenberger. Each team looks at that differently but a team that likes him won't matter to them— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) May 6, 2014
Other players on the list include LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, Miami tackle Seantrel Henderson and Florida State linebackers Telvin Smith and Christian Jones.
Jernigan showed flashes of both dominance and inconsistency while recording 63 tackles and 4.5 sacks for the Seminoles last season, but he was downright dominant against Auburn in the national championship, creating consistent disruption on the interior.
The 6'2", 299-pound defensive tackle has always had the talent, but that performance boosted his stock into first-round territory. Many still aren't sold, however, and Rotoworld's Josh Norris recently said he wasn't a first-rounder:
#LRT makes sense. Jernigan is not a first-rounder in my eyes. Not sure where the 3T talk came from.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) May 2, 2014
Adding a red flag may just solidify that fact.
As for Mettenberger, his physical therapist, via Florio, is claiming that his diluted sample was the result of the rehabilitation process for his torn ACL:
(Mettenberger) was experiencing frequent muscle cramping during the day as well as at night while trying to sleep. (He was advised to drink) as much as 1 to 1.5 gallons of of water per day, to increase his consumption of foods high in potassium, and to increase his sodium intake.
"The kid didn't do anything wrong," agent Joe Linta added, via CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. "He was doing what the doctor told him to do."
According to Florio, a diluted sample is still treated as a positive sample.
Although Mettenberger is coming off a serious injury, he thrived in Cam Cameron's NFL system as a senior and continued to improve his stock during April's pro day. Still, Bleacher Report's Will Carroll argued that this development combined with his injury should keep him out of the first-round discussion:
Mettenberger is five months post acl and failed a drug test. And he's in first round consideration?— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) May 5, 2014
A second- or third-round choice is most likely for Mettenberger.
A failed drug test isn't going to make or break a career, but it's hardly a red flag that NFL teams want to see just three days prior to the start of the draft. It's often little things like this that sway teams on the fence one way or the other.
It remains to be seen how this news will impact the players involved and the interested teams around the league on draft day. After a long pre-draft evaluation process, we won't have to wait long to find out.