LSU Tigers product Zach Mettenberger is an intriguing second-tier option at quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft, and he’s worth selecting as a backup with the intent of grooming him into a starting role. Mettenberger possesses excellent arm strength, which causes prospects like him to rise on some boards. There’s a chance he could be drafted higher than we think, but he still has accuracy and decision-making issues. He’s a similar prospect to Ryan Mallett back when the New England Patriots backup came out of Arkansas, as both are immobile SEC quarterbacks with cannon arms and upside.
The NFL Network’s Albert Breer reports that Mettenberger met with the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders yesterday and will meet with the Minnesota Vikings today (it’s a private workout, so he will throw) before visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday. Breer adds that the Detroit Lions will go to Mettenberger’s home turf to check him out, and they would have two strong-armed QBs on their roster if they decided to take a flier on Mett as a backup.
Below are how Mettenberger could fit with each team.
Raiders: The Raiders have Matt Schaub locked in as their short-term starting QB after shipping a sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans for him in the hopes that Schaub can bounce-back after a putrid 2013 season (I have faith). Even though they added Schaub, they could still snag a quarterback and are in a perfect position to take a QB in the second round whom they could groom. If Derek Carr falls out of the first, then he would be an ideal pick for the Raiders in the second. However, Mettenberger is a more realistic second day option for them as a prospect with tools whom they could groom.
Patriots: With Ryan Mallett set to become a free agent soon, the Patriots are in the market for a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft whom they can develop as a trade chip or a quality backup. Mallett isn’t going to get traded before hitting the open market and has more value on the team as a quality backup, but the Patriots need to find the next young backup for Tom Brady. Since Mettenberger has similarities to Mallett, he could make sense as that guy for the Pats.
Vikings: Quarterback is clearly the Vikings biggest position of need right now, and I think it would be a risk for them to pass up on a QB in the first round due to the teams picking before them in the second and the chances of a team like the Raiders scooping up a QB that falls. That said, Mettenberger could be an option if the Vikings feel that he can be a franchise QB, because he would enable them to land an impact player at another position in the first. I would strongly advise against that route, and I think it’s more likely that the Vikings take two quarterbacks, as Rick Spielman has stated, with Mettenberger’s tools making him the developmental third-string QB on the roster.
Jaguars: The Jaguars may or may not take a quarterback in the first round, and I honestly couldn’t see David Caldwell passing up on Teddy Bridgewater with the third overall pick. But if the Jaguars don’t take a QB in the first, then they could go with a guy like Mettenberger later on if they fall in love with him. I highly doubt they would take him, and I think they are just doing their due diligence on the former LSU passer.
Lions: The Lions definitely don’t need a starting quarterback with Matthew Stafford locked in, and he’ll have his best wide receivers corps with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate as the starting duo. Plus, the Lions kept TE Brandon Pettigrew and have a strong chance at taking a wide receiver in the draft. They lost one of the best backups in the game this offseason to the St. Louis Rams in Shaun Hill, so their current backups are veteran Dan Orlovsky and former Boise State star Kellen Moore. I think drafting Mettenberger as a guy for Jim Caldwell and Joe Lombardi to groom makes plenty of sense, especially since he’s a better guy to stash than Moore, who would find himself cut in that scenario.