Zach Mettenberger had a strange collegiate career. He signed with Georgia in 2009, which only made sense: He was from nearby Oconee County and his mother worked in UGA’s football office. In the spring of 2010, there were those who believed Mettenberger outplayed fellow redshirt freshman Aaron Murray on G-Day and could have become the front-runner to fill Georgia’s quarterback vacancy. This soon became a moot point.
Mettenberger was dismissed from the team after being arrested in South Georgia while on spring break. (He would plead guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery.) He spent the 2010 season at a Kansas junior college. He transferred to LSU the next year but was third-string behind Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee on a team that wound up beating Georgia for the SEC championship and losing to Alabama in the BCS title tilt.
Mettenberger became the Tigers’ No. 1 quarterback in 2012 and was wildly inconsistent. He was great in a last-minute loss to Alabama, less great in other games. He was sacked six times and completed 14 passes for only 120 yards in a last-second Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to Clemson. But he was very good in 2013, and his best game came when he passes for 372 yards in an epic 44-41 loss to Georgia and Murray in Athens. (Does Mettenberger have a flair for drama or what?)
But Mettenberger tore his ACL in LSU’s regular-season finale against Arkansas, not quite a week after Murray had torn his against Kentucky. Both are now readying for the NFL draft. Which brings us, albeit in a wayfaring manner, to this:
The former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski, who now critiques quarterbacks for ESPN, believes Mettenberger is the second-best quarterback in this draft. Jaworski rates Mettenberger ahead of Johnny Manziel, who won the 2012 Heisman Trophy, and Teddy Bridgewater, who has been mentioned as a possible No. 1 pick overall. The only QB Jaworski rates ahead of Mettenberger is — no, not Aaron Murray — Blake Bortles of Central Florida.
Jaworski’s take on Mettenberger:
He’s the wild card for me in this draft. We’re going to find out at his pro day (April 9) how he is health-wise coming off of ACL surgery. But looking at the tape, I see an NFL skill set. Scott Brunner is coaching him up. Brunner is the same guy who worked with Joe Flacco coming out of college. I see very similar traits between Mettenberger and Flacco. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, he has the size teams want. I want to see more at his pro day, but he has a big arm on tape. He can make every throw from the pocket. That said, he’s a little inconsistent and he struggles at time with his footwork.
Which only goes to show that the NFL is a vastly different realm. No one disputes that Murray was the better collegian, and he has the SEC records to prove it. But Murray was measured at 6-foot during the NFL combine. (Manziel is 5-11, FYI.) Mettenberger, as noted, is 6-5.
Owing to his size, or the lack thereof, there’s no chance Murray gets drafted in Round 1. If an NFL team shares Jaworski’s enthusiasm, there’s a chance Mettenberger, who’s not projected as a first-rounder in any mock draft I’ve seen, just might.