A Look at Prospect Zach Mettenberger

With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the supposed “Day of Judgment” for the Houston Texans creeps closer and closer.  While there is still no indication as to who the Texans will select, many are claiming that whoever they pick will change the direction of this franchise, whether it be Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, or Teddy Bridgewater.  While I understand this statement and it does hold merit, one player does not make a team.  If the Texans pass up on a quarterback with their first pick (keep your fingers crossed), the Texans will be looking to target a quarterback in the second round or later.  One quarterback that I am personally intrigued with is Zach Mettenberger, former quarterback of the LSU Tigers.

Mettenberger, who is still rehabbing from an ACL tear that he experienced during LSU’s regular season finale, is an interesting prospect.  He has the prototypical size for a big-bodied quarterback (Bill O’Brien supposedly prefers bigger quarterbacks) measuring in at 6’5 feet and 224 pounds.  Mettenberger recently shined at his pro day, throwing a total of 125 passes and showing that although he is only 85-90% healthy, he is positively progressing through his rehab.  Although a typical pro day should not make or break a prospect, Mettenberger’s pro day really improved his stock by showing that he has the tools to be successful at the next level and will possibly be healthy enough to contribute to a team this upcoming season.

In regards to Mettenberger’s play at LSU, he was a solid starter for an LSU offense that is not reputed for being a high-octane offense that strikes fear into opposing defenses.  As a junior, Mettenberger threw for twelve touchdowns and seven interceptions, 2,609 passing yards, and garnered a 58.8 completion percentage.  It was during this season that I was not particularly sold on Mettenberger.  He seemed like another average LSU quarterback who was merely asked to do the bare minimum for a not so exciting offense that was supported by a suffocating defense.  It was then that I learned about his past history at the University of Georgia and how he was dismissed from the team in 2010.  Through this, I learned that Mettenberger had a cocky attitude and was not short on confidence whatsoever.  With these ideas and his average play at quarterback forming my opinion on him, I was not a fan of Mettenberger in any way, shape, or form.

Zach Mettenberger 2

And then 2013 happened.  While Mettenberger did not compete at a Heisman-like level, he vastly improved during his senior season.   A large part of his transformation was due to the hiring of former NFL offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who implemented his NFL-style offense into an LSU program that was in dire need of increased offensive output.  With Cameron’s system in play, Mettenberger was able to hone his skills as a quarterback in the most positive and impressive manner.  Mettenberger, who was surrounded by superb wide receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, thrived in Cameron’s pro-style offense by throwing for thirty-two touchdowns and eight interceptions, 3,082 passing yards, and had a competition percentage of 64.9.  While these also are not the gaudiest statistics in comparison to some of the other “top-tier” quarterbacks, his improvement was well documented throughout the season.  In light of his season, Mettenberger showed me that he does have the skillset to be a successful quarterback for a big time program and rightfully gained my respect.

As a quarterback, some of Mettenberger’s strengths include his cannon of an arm, his ability to make pin-point passes into tight and sometimes nonexistent windows, and his ability to go from under center.  Some of his weaknesses include not always making the best decisions in the pocket, not being the most accurate passer on the run, being inconsistent, and not being the most agile runner.  While some of his weaknesses are glaring, all rookie quarterbacks have their respective weaknesses that do not look good on the surface.  The great thing about Mettenberger is that he has a lot of experience from playing under center, a necessity at the NFL level, and has shown he can make the necessary throws in the pocket, although not consistently.  All things considered, Mettenberger has a good resume, body of work, and skillset that should translate well at the NFL level.

In my opinion, Mettenberger would have a great chance to thrive under Bill O’Brien and his system and could become a very productive quarterback.  I would take a chance on him in the second or third round before I would take waivers on the exciting but erratic Johnny Manziel or the scrawny and small-handed Teddy Bridgewater.  Mettenberger says that he should be 100% by training camp, so he could realistically be the day one starter for a Texans team in desperate need of solid quarterback play.  Because of the varying reports on Mettenberger’s value in relation to the rest of the NFL teams, it is difficult to project how long he will be on board.  If O’Brien loves him more than Jimmy Garoppolo, A.J. McCarron, or Aaron Murray, then I would not hesitate to take him with their second round pick (depending on who is still on the board), knowing that he will probably not be available come the third round due to other quarterback-needy teams.  They could even risk passing on him with their second round pick and trade back in to the second round in hopes of drafting him later.  While Mettenberger is just one quarterback prospect among many, I really like what he could offer the Texans in terms of value in the second round and in terms of his long-term potential as a franchise quarterback.  Time will tell if the Texans think the same thing.

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