By Holy Schnikes
As I’m sure most of you have heard by now, the Vikings are reportedly interested in LSU Quarterback Zach Mettenberger. So interested, in fact, that DraftInsider.net’s Tony Pauline has said that he is their “signal caller of choice” according to his sources. Adding fuel to the fire are reports from ESPN and other outlets that Mettenberger will be having dinner and a meeting with Vikings brass after his Pro Day on Wednesday. All of these reports have many draftniks penciling in Mettenberger as the Vikings second round pick in this May’s draft.
There are a lot of reasons to think that these reports of Mettenberger being the Vikings pick are real, with the biggest one obviously being his fit with Norv Turner and his Air Coryell offense. As many of you know, in Coryell offenses, teams typically like their Quarterbacks to have big arms to push the ball down the field vertically on a more consistent basis. Norv Turner is no exception. Mettenberger not only has that big arm, but he also has experience in a pro-style offense and has played against the toughest teams in the country in the SEC, which has led many to think this might be kind of a no-brainer.
However, it’s a bit more complicated than some people in the NFL media are making it out to be. As VT’s own Arif Hasan has mentioned on several occasions, the Air Coryell offense doesn’t really need a big armed QB to be successful, since only 3 to 4% of throws go beyond 30 yards.
It’s definitely something that’s preferred in Turner’s offense, because the offense does require the QB to push the ball vertically more often than other offenses, but a cannon arm isn’t a necessity to make the offense work. What really makes Turner’s passing offense go is timing and ball placement on passes in the 6-20 yard range, where the majority of the throws in the offense are made. These are things that Mettenberger struggles with at times. In the film I watched, Mettenberger struggled to lead his receivers and was often bailed out by the fantastic talent around him. It’s actually kind of frustrating to think how good that offense could have been with all of that NFL talent and Cam Cameron calling the plays. A good amount of TDs were missed because of Mettenberger’s ball placement.
So what about the Vikings’ reported interest in him? Well, we’ve reached the point in the offseason just before the draft that many people call “silly season”. Actually, we’re probably well past it at that point (Tom Savage a top 40 pick and being taken over Teddy Bridgewater? I did not make this up, this is a real rumor. Burn your computer if you need to. No one would blame you.). You really can’t trust anything out of anybody’s mouth this time of year, especially things from unnamed scouts, front office executives, and insiders. Remember in 2011 when Rick Speilman got everybody to think that the Vikings might draft Morris Claiborne or even Justin Blackmon over Matt Kalil? What about last year when everybody and their grandmother had the Vikings taking Manti Te’o in the first round, only to be revealed after the draft that the Vikings weren’t going to take Te’o even if Sharrif Floyd hadn’t fallen to 23?
This year is no exception when it comes to different projections and conflicting reports. Remember just two weeks ago when Todd McShay said the Vikings were “smitten” with Teddy Bridgewater and high on Johnny Manziel? Now we have guys like Tony Pauline, in an interview with Bleacher Report, saying the Vikings have no interest in Manziel. So which one of the two draft insiders do we trust? It’s like I said earlier, trust no one.
I’m sure Pauline and McShay have what they would consider good sources, but no matter how good their sources are or how reliable they are, those sources more than likely received false information. Do you think any Front Office, especially one with a highly secretive micro-manager like Rick Speilman, would give any sort of information on who they’re actually thinking of drafting to anyone? I’m going to go ahead and say no. There’s a slim chance that any of what’s being reported now will be what actually happens in May, even if those reports seem plausible. Believe nothing you hear from anybodys’ mouth (especially anything from the mouth of sources) until the Ginger Hammer announces the pick on May 8th. So for those of you who are pro-Mettenberger, you may not want to get your hopes up on Mett joining the Vikings. For those of you who are anti-Mettenberger, you can probably step away from that ledge now.