LSU confirmed Wednesday that quarterback Zach Mettenberger, one of the top prospects at the position for the 2014 NFL Draft, will miss the team's bowl appearance while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in Friday's season-ending win over Arkansas. Tigers coach Les Miles said he doesn't believe Mettenberger's injury will impact his NFL future.
"We are very disappointed for Zach," Miles said. "He's been a tremendous leader for our team, and he's as competitive a guy as I have ever been around. He's had a great impact on our program. I know Zach will work extremely hard to rehabilitate his knee, and I don't anticipate this injury having any impact on what should be a great future in the NFL."
True as that may be, however, it will no doubt impact the ability of NFL scouts and front office personnel to evaluate Mettenberger on the same level as other draftable quarterbacks. Recovery from ACL tears varies, but even under the most optimistic projections, Mettenberger can mark the Senior Bowl in January and the NFL Scouting Combine in February off his list of scouting opportunities.
Instead, NFL scouts will have to rely more heavily on game film of Mettenberger's two seasons as a starter at LSU. Those who aren't impressed are likely to get stuck on his junior film of 2012, when Mettenberger (6-5, 235 pounds) struggled to read defenses, threw just 12 touchdown passes and took 32 sacks. In one three-game stretch against Florida, South Carolina and Texas A&M, he completed just 34 of 79 passes with two interceptions and one touchdown.
Those who give Mettenberger a stronger evaluation will be sold on his vastly improved senior year under former Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who took on the same role at LSU in 2013. Mettenberger's numbers were up across the board, from completion percentage (64.9) to yardage (3,082) to touchdowns (22).
So which clubs might have Mettenberger targeted next spring?
NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has identified six franchises in need of a quarterback in the 2014 draft: The Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans.