2014 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals Should Target QB Zach Mettenberger in Round Two
When you really break it down, following some key free agent additions, there’s plenty of bigger needs on the team. An elite young pass rusher to play OLB, a thumping safety to play opposite Tyrann Mathieu, an heir to replace DE Darnell Dockett and more talent on the offensive line are all more pressing needs than a QB. Even still, the Cardinals should draft Zach Mettenberger (QB, LSU) with their second round pick, 52nd overall. While QB isn’t a need now, it will be sooner rather than later.
Right now the Cards have Carson Palmer under center, and he’s a pretty good fit in HC Bruce Arians’ offense, which is predicated on a play-action downfield passing attack with a power run game. But he’s 34 years old and has reached the zenith of his career. Yes he put up some big numbers, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 24 TDs, but he also threw 22 interceptions, which were second most in the NFL.
There’s also no heir apparent to Palmer on the roster. Drew Stanton has been a career backup, and while Arians likes him and has spent a lot of time working with him before, he won’t ever be a franchise QB.
Mettenberger was absolutely designed for Arians’ offense. He’s a big (6-foot 5, 230-pounds), strong, confident gunslinger who arguably has the best arm in the 2014 NFL Draft class. He’s got unbelievable arm strength, perfect for getting the deep balls downfield. He’s played and excelled in a pro-style, play-action predicated offensive scheme before with former NFL head coach Cam Cameron in college. Not only that, he’s spent the bulk of his career playing under center, something fewer and fewer college QBs have with the trendy spread offenses.
He needs a good offensive line to protect him because he doesn’t have great mobility and always stands tall in the pocket facing the pressure, but that’s why we paid big bucks for Jared Veldheer, one of the best young OTs in the game. He’s average at this point in terms of reading defenses, but that will improve with time and with a top notch QB guru (like Arians).
Mettenberger is projected by most to a 3rd round pick, but there’s too much upside and raw arm talent in him to fall past round two, at least in my opinion. Plus, he tore his ACL at the end of last season, which has been a big reason his draft stock isn’t as high as it probably should be. But Mettenberger is a traditional drop back QB who hasn’t built his game around mobility, and Arians’ scheme doesn’t call for a mobile QB.
Take Mettenberger in round two, let him sit, continue rehabbing his knee, and learn behind Palmer and let him take the reins in 2015. Palmer’s contract in 2015 would be $10 million, but it’s a voidable year so it wouldn’t be a huge blow to the team financially if they cut him.