(Editor's Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today's featured player is LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger).
Name: Zach Mettenberger
College: Louisiana State
Honors: Mettenberger's 3,082-yard, 22-touchdown senior season was the third best in LSU history. He also became the first quarterback in LSU's history to post back-to-back 2,500-yard passing seasons.
Key stat: The jump in performance between Mettenberger's junior and senior seasons was pretty remarkable. He threw for 400 more yards and 10 more touchdowns while improving his completion percentage more than six points (58.8 to 64.9) and adding 50 points to his quarterback rating.
Where He's Projected: Few players have endured as much of a rollercoaster ride as Mettenberger when it comes to draft stock. Many considered him a possible first or second round pick back during the fall, until he suffered a season-ending ACL injury the day after Thanksgiving. The injury prompted speculation that the towering QB could fall as fall as the fourth, fifth or sixth round. Then, just 13 weeks removed from surgery, he put on an impressive display at LSU's Pro Day, winning back a lot of his earlier stock. The consensus now puts Mettenberger somewhere in the second or third round.
How He Helps the Cowboys: One of many options for the Cowboys, should they choose to address their longterm future at quarterback. There's no shot Mettenberger goes in the first 16 picks, so Dallas could take him later on as an inexpensive backup to Tony Romo and Kyle Orton. It's unlikely he lasts too long, so it would probably require they take him No. 47 or No. 78 overall. But it would give the Cowboys a project quarterback to work behind Romo.
Scout's Take: I would not have considered Mettenberger much of a prospect before he entered the 2013 season. He did show he had the arm strength to compete for a spot on a roster in the NFL but not much else.
With Cam Cameron taking over as the offensive coordinator before his senior season, he transformed Mettenberger from a thrower into a more complete quarterback. The offense played to Mettenberger's strengths of getting the ball down the field into the talented hands of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. Cameron knew that Mettenberger was limited in the pocket -- not only with his mobility but in his decision making, as well.
He knew that he had to make Mettenberger not only play quicker but think that way as well. The transformation was night and day. One of Mettenberger's major flaws was how he locked onto receivers with his eyes and thus would hold the ball waiting for the receivers to break open. It was this flaw that not only resulted in more pressure from the rushers but sacks and negative plays.
Cameron made Mettenberger not only think quicker but react that way as well. Cam [embedded_ad] eron also cleaned up his foot work in his drops and set up which allowed him to throw the ball with more balance which helped his accuracy. The key for Mettenberger was getting the ball on the move to these receivers and allowing them to go to work on defensive backs.
Mettenberger has outstanding size for the position at 6-5 and he uses his size to his advantage. He has an over-the-top throwing motion. He can make all the throws necessary of a pro quarterback. He can stand on the right hash and fire the ball outside to the left sideline. He is not afraid to fit the ball into tight spots. He has a great deal of faith in his arm but also his receivers.
He has surprising touch for a player his size. Good on fades and screens. Mettenberger can also hit running backs that are going away from him. As mentioned, doesn't have great mobility in the pocket and as a result, he will take some wicked shots but he has the toughness to hang in there. Very good leadership and respect from his teammates and coaches. I have never heard a poor word about him in this regard.
He is coming off a major ACL surgery but has fought his way back in preparing for the 2014 season. Would not be surprised to see him go in the second or third round of this upcoming draft. – Bryan Broaddus