Two of the better quarterback prospects of the 2014 NFL Draft ended their seasons in a way they didn’t enjoy. Both Aaron Murray (Georgia) and Zach Mettenberger (LSU) tore their ACL’s in the final game of the regular season, both against the bottom dwellers of the SEC, Kentucky and Arkansas. Luckily for both QB’s, the injuries shouldn’t affect their draft stock.
If we go back a week before the injuries and look at the QB big board, you’d find both Mettenberger and Murray near the top. Mettenberger was viewed as a fringe late-first, early-second round prospect, and Murray looked like a late-second round prospect (after starting the year as a potential first rounder). Post injury, they’re both in pretty much the same exact spot. Neither Murray nor Mettenberger were ever known for their speed, so whatever the two have lost won’t affect their playing style at the next level.
No, injuries aren’t going to affect the draft stock of these two guys moving forward. What will affect Murray’s draft stock is his size, and this is the “biggest” separation between the two.
Size has always been the largest question mark in projecting Murray, who is just under 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds. That’s not exactly tiny, but it’s small for the professional quarterback position. Everyone always points to anomalies such as Drew Brees and Russell Wilson as proof short quarterbacks can excel in the league, but then why are they the only ones? Some think it’s an unfair stigma, but it’s undoubtedly a proficient one.
Bigger, taller quarterbacks have been in vogue since the beginning of the position, and for good reason. It’s harder for shorter quarterbacks to see over gigantic offensive and defensive linemen to see the coverages and routes, and it’s also harder to put the ball through the open windows amidst the throng of limbs, due to a shorter release point.
Also, durability is a concern for smaller quarterbacks. The difference between college and pro isn’t necessarily the number of hits taken, but the kind of hits taken. Murray has been incredibly durable for UGA, but will he be as durable when taking hits from NFL linemen and linebackers week after week?
Mettenberger, meanwhile, doesn’t have the size concerns. At an impressive 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, he’s built like Ben Roethlisberger. He’s got the height and size to both see over the lines and take a lick from one of many ferocious NFL sack artists. With his height and wingspan, his release point is considerably higher than Murray’s.
The production from both players is impeccable, and the accolades are deep. Both have excelled playing in the toughest conference featuring the fastest and most athletic players in the country. The biggest difference between the two is size, which is exactly why Mettenberger will be drafted far ahead of Murray (that and Mettenberger’s arm, which is most closely related to the infamous Tsar Cannon).
Now go ahead and look up Tsar Cannon.