North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron isn’t the only one who’s seen his NFL Draft stock rise since the beginning of the 2013 football season. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has also seen a meteoric rise, one that has hit a feverish pitch since the game vs. Georgia this past Saturday. Mettenberger began the season as a guy who had all the physical tools but still hadn’t put it all together consistently.
It didn’t help that he’s been bouncing all over the place since coming out of Oconee High in Watkinsville, Georgia. After signing with his home state Bulldogs, he was rooming and competing with current UGA starting QB Aaron Murray for the starting job. After a bar room incident, Mettenberger was kicked off the team and transferred to Butler Community College.
After one season there, he transferred to LSU where he lost the battle to Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. When he did finally win the job in 2012, he showed glimpses of his talent, but often times struggled leading a very disappointing Tiger offense. In comes new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, fresh from the NFL ranks leading the Baltimore Ravens offense, who had fired him in the middle of the season of their Super Bowl run.
Playing in a pro-style west coast system, Mettenberger has been utterly spectacular in 2013. Not only is Mettenberger putting up passing stats not seen in Baton Rouge since JaMarcus Russell left after 2006, but he’s doing it against very good defenses (TCU, Auburn, Georgia).
The Tigers may have lost the tight game with the Bulldogs (44-41), but no one can pin any blame on Mettenberger, who went 23-for-37 for 372 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. For the season, Mettenberger is at an impressive 1,398 passing yards for 13 touchdowns and only one pick, while completing an impressive 64.1 percent of his passes. Does this mean Mettenberger could go in the first round?
Potentially, if he keeps playing like he has been. He’s been compared to Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger often, due mainly to a similarly huge frame (Mettenberger is 6-foot 5, 230-pounds while Big Ben is 6-foot 5, 240), but he also shares a fierce toughness in the pocket, with defenders regularly struggling to bring him down.
But it’s not just his size and toughness that impresses NFL scouts, it’s his unbelievably strong arm.
All throughout the game versus UGA, he was making NFL-caliber throws against many future NFL stars, showing excellent precision while throwing both deep and into tight windows. Mettenberger is unfortunately in one of the deepest QB classes in recent memory.
His athleticism is limited, which will be the biggest con on his scouting report, and it doesn’t help that dual-threat QBs are all the rage at the professional level. But it’s not a requirement (Peyton Manning can’t run either, yet he seems to be doing okay these days). If Mettenberger continues playing like he has been, it’s going to be awfully hard to imagine him slipping very far in the 2014 NFL Draft.