While it may seem like a surprising choice for fans of the Baltimore Ravens, Ozzie Newsome needs to draft underrated quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
The Ravens have the starting job for quarterback all tied up with Joe Flacco, but adding depth is extremely important coming off of an eight-win season. Closing in on 30, Flacco could have as few as three to four solid seasons left in him. Current backup Tyrod Taylor only has a year left on his contract, and coach John Harbaugh said that he was disappointed in his playing performance. If anything were to happen to Flacco, the Ravens would be set up for a season filled with catastrophe.
While Baltimore could have several mid-round choices available to add depth, it makes the most sense to try and lock up Mettenberger early. One of the biggest issues with drafting a rookie quarterback is that analysts and Pro Days aren’t always able to paint the full picture of a signal caller. The fact that Cam Cameron was the offensive coordinator for the Ravens and then went on to be Mettenberger’s offensive coordinator, however, gives Baltimore an inside knowledge on how to help the the former quarterback for LSU learn and develop.
Issues with drinking and sexual battery ruined his brief time with the Georgia Bulldogs, but the 22-year-old quarterback was able to turn things around with Cameron in his senior year at LSU. Mettenberger showed tremendous growth in his final season, and in 2013 he was able to total 3,082 yards passing, 22 touchdown passes and eight interceptions against some of the toughest competition that college football has to offer.
Just as things looked to be improving for Mettenberger, he suffered a terrible ACL injury at the end of the regular season. And to top that off, he produced a reportedly diluted urine sample in a drug test at the NFL Combine. All of these issues continue to pile up to hurt his draft stock, but Newsome is smart enough to know that this isn’t a quarterback to give up on.
Mettenberger’s main criticism revolving around his football skills is his lack of mobility, but that isn’t something 6-foot-6 Flacco is known for. He has showed the ability to learn and execute on what Cameron has taught him, and the Ravens have the ability to help Mettenberger learn and grow instead of forcing him into action his rookie year.
While he has some red flags surrounding him, Mettenberger could wind up as the biggest steal in this year’s draft.