Zach Mettenberger in many NFL fans’ eyes seems like a no brainer choice in this years NFL draft. Mettenberger played for the LSU Tigers (after starting his career, and being dismissed from the team, at the University of Georgia) of the SEC, and dazzled many with his incredible ability to move the football under pressure and simply a “winning” attitude. Many fans, though, do not see the glaring hole in Mettenberger’s game: his inability to utilize the entire football field.
There is obviously a lot to like about Mettenberger, specifically his beautiful numbers. In his college career, Mettenberger logged nearly 6,000 yards through the air with 35 touchdowns compared to only 15 interceptions. Those numbers are certainly peachy, but it is his win/loss record which has Cleveland Browns fans salivating like Pavlov’s dogs (or Tigers in this case). Mettenberger has only lost six total games as a starter in his collegiate career.
As most football fans know, Mettenberger tore his ACL and sprained his MCL in his left knee on a touchdown pass against the University of Arkansas. Mettenberger’s doctors had him wait until January to repair the ACL, in order to let the MCL heal over the course of the six weeks between his injury on Nov. 29 and the actual surgery. This put him at a stark disadvantage compared to the other big name quarterbacks in this draft like Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles, because he simply didn’t have the time to get prepared for the pro days and NFL combine (which he did not participate in due to the injury).
But how about this stat? Mettenberger last year only rolled to his left 4 times all season, and completed NONE of those passes. He was certainly able to make throws to the left side of the field, but in Kyle Shannahan‘s offense there are a lot of rollouts to either direction — just look to Robert Griffin III in the past two seasons as the ultimate example. So not only is Mettenberger uncomfortable rolling to his left to begin with, but now he’s got a reconstructed left knee which he is expected to lead with on those rollouts.
So here we are, between a rock and a hard place with Zach Mettenberger. A kid with a knack for winning the tough games stuck with a tough problem. He could absolutely be a great NFL quarterback, but it shouldn’t be for the Cleveland Browns.