The Tennessee Titans finally have drafted a quarterback to back up oft-injured Jake Locker, though they certainly took their time before taking former Butler Community College standout Zach Mettenberger of LSU.
The Titans traded with Washington to move up eight spots Saturday and drafted Mettenberger at No. 178 overall in the sixth round. Their quarterbacks coach worked Mettenberger out a week ago, and coach Ken Whisenhunt said they considered selecting the quarterback sooner in the draft.
“We had to make the move to get him,” Whisenhunt said. “We’d heard that there were other teams that were trying to move up to get him. At that point, we felt like it was a low risk-high reward type of situation.”
Locker has missed 14 of 32 starts since being named the team’s top quarterback, and he was hurt for the final nine games last season as Tennessee went 7-9 and costing Mike Munchak his coaching job.
The 6-foot-5, 252-pound Mettenberger threw for 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. He tore his left ACL in the regular season finale in November and had surgery in January. Mettenberger said he was ecstatic for the opportunity and asked about not being drafted until the sixth round, he called this a great opportunity. His draft stock dropped considerably in the last week when reports surfaced that Mettenberger had failed a drug test at the NFL Combine because of a diluted sample, which his trainer said was a result of being overhydrated.
“I'll make the most of it, and I’m ready to get up there and get working,” Mettenberger said.
Tennessee repeatedly has endorsed Locker as the starting quarterback. But the Titans did not pick up his fifth-year option to avoid being on the hook for approximately $14 million in 2015 in case of injury.
Locker was the eighth overall pick in 2011 and has for 3,974 yards with 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his 18 starts. He had eight TDs with four TDs in only seven games in 2013. Tennessee swapped Locker’s backups cutting Ryan Fitzpatrick for Charlie Whitehurst who can help teach Whisenhunt’s offense.
The Titans wound up taking the 10th quarterback in this draft. Mettenberger offers at least another option for a franchise needing to win on the field to lure fans back into the stands in Nashville. Tennessee hasn’t had a winning season or a playoff berth in five years.
Mettenberger started his college career at Georgia where he redshirted as a freshman and was competing with Aaron Murray for the starting quarterback job. He went to Butler for one year, leading the Grizzlies to an 11-1 record and a national-runner up finish before landing at LSU where he worked last season with former NFL coach Cam Cameron as his offensive coordinator.
The Bengals got yet another quarterback to back up Andy Dalton on Saturday, this one with a history of winning big games. They took Alabama’s A.J. McCarron in the fifth round when the Heisman Trophy runner-up was still available for the 164th overall pick.
McCarron’s history of winning national championships was enticing to the Bengals, who haven’t been able to win with Dalton in the playoffs. Still, the pecking order is set for the foreseeable future.
“I’m confident in myself but at the same time, I know Andy’s the QB out there and I respect that,” McCarron said on a conference all. “All I want to do is go in and help us in whatever way I can.
“If that means me holding the clipboard for a couple of years and giving Andy reports during the week and watching film with him and helping him in any way I can, I’m just ready to do it.”
During the three days of the draft, Cincinnati shored up two areas on defense – cornerback and line – and drafted a potential starter at center and a power running back.
It also added a little intrigue at the quarterback spot.
Dalton led the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons, then had some of his worst games. The Bengals have lost their opening-round game all three seasons, falling to 0-5 in the postseason under coach Marvin Lewis.
The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990, matching the sixth-longest streak of postseason futility in NFL history.