In a class like the 2014 NFL draft features, being a quarterback not named Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel means there is a pretty tough road to hoe ahead. Add in the fact that said signal-caller suffered a season-ending injury last year, and you have Zach Mettenberger.
The former LSU quarterback made a career out of executing some of the best throws in the country and helped turn Odell Beckham Jr. into a consensus first-round selection. But after his injury, questions began to mount about whether or not he can measure up to the top-tier quarterbacks.
One thing the future NFL signal-caller has certainly shown is maturity. Mettenberger spoke about his maturity as a quarterback at LSU, per Albert Breer of NFL.com:
It really came down to thinking about what I wanted in life. I wanted to be a great quarterback in the NFL. You can't do that being at the bars every night of the week. I sat down and thought about my priorities and what's important to me. And I knew what I needed to sacrifice. I've done that.
At 6'5", 229 pounds, Mettenberger also has the frame and build of a quarterback at the next level. In a class where Manziel is considered undersized, Mettenberger has the look of a prototypical signal-caller in the NFL.
With the first round of the draft set to start on Thursday night, here's a look at the best and worst-case scenarios for the former LSU player.
Best-Case Scenario: Late First Round
Though this is very unlikely to happen, a phenomenal pro day for Mettenberger might just catapult him to a team late in the opening round looking to develop a quarterback behind a franchise player.
But let's remember the last LSU quarterback who took a huge jump thanks to his pro day. How did that work out?
Not to say that Mettenberger is in any way similar to JaMarcus Russell, but a great pro day no longer means a player will go at the top of the draft. While it may not make a huge dent in scouts' minds, the 22-year-old's pro day left an impression on ESPN's Ron Jaworski, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk (via NFL Live):
This is the guy that can change the draft, Zach Mettenberger. He has the big, strong arm, the prototypical NFL quarterback, at 6-foot-5, 228 pounds, coached by Cam Cameron down there at LSU, pro-style offense.
After my tape evaluation, I had Teddy Bridgewater No. 1. But I went to his Pro Day. He really struggled throwing the football — accuracy, velocity and it came out with a wobble.
Jaws has also been known to put down several other players in the class, but appears to be high on Mettenberger. That may not guarantee him a spot in the first round, all Mettenberger needs is one NFL scout, coach or executive to fall in love with him just like Jaworski.
Mike Mayock of NFL.com also has Mettenberger just behind Jimmy Garoppolo in his top five for this year's class:
Given the fact that his injury concerns might be too much for teams to take a risk on in the first round, this might not happen. But with Matt Miller of Bleacher Report listing Mettenberger at the top of the second round, it just takes one team to propel him into the first.
Worst-Case Scenario: Third Round
Along with his injury concerns, Mettenberger also has to shake off a recent issue that came about during draft week.
During the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Mettenberger failed a drug test along with 10 other players, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. Mettenberger's agent, Seth Katz, refuted the report, noting a strange circumstance for the erroneous results, per Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com:
There was too much water in his urine; there were no drugs in his urine. He was clean. We've spoken with several clubs and their response is 'it is what it is. We're not worried about it.' ... Zach did not do anything wrong. He's not shook up in the least. He knows he didn't do anything wrong. He followed instructions.
So there's that, right? Well, probably not in the eyes of NFL teams, who will likely see a slight red flag for the quarterback. It might not be fair to Mettenberger, who apparently did nothing wrong, but it's still enough to concern teams who might be looking at a different quarterback or position entirely.
What Mettenberger does have on his side is the backing of a renowned coach in Cam Cameron. The former offensive coordinator and head coach at the NFL level helped Mettenberger develop in his final season and spoke highly about his pro day, per Kleinpeter:
I said, 'C'mon, we're just getting warmed up.' Zach just rolled his eyes at me and gutted it out. Here's a guy 14 weeks off ACL surgery, throws 130 passes and never blinks.
That to me is Zach Mettenberger. He'll do whatever you ask to do and do it to the best of his ability. He's all about football and doing whatever he has to do to get the job done.
With a slew of teams looking to develop potential franchise quarterbacks like the Tennessee Titans, who met with Mettenberger, per Adam Caplan of ESPN, the former LSU signal-caller won't find himself outside of the third round.
Miller has teams like the Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints picking quarterbacks late in the third round, so if Mettenberger does slide that far, he'll find a home as a backup with a chance to take over in coming seasons.
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