Red Flags Pop Up for Zach Mettenberger


Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s NFL Draft Eve, and by now you would think we’d hear everything we’re going to hear on potential prospects.

Well, that isn’t the case for LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. And the news isn’t good.

On Monday, it was reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports that Mettenberger was one of ten prospects who failed their drug test at the NFL Combine. While Mettenberger’s test did not test positive for any substances, it was considered “diluted,” which constitutes a failed test per the NFL’s policy.

Mettenberger’s agent, Joe Linta, said Mettenberger’s diluted test was caused by excessive hydration. Linta said Mettenberger was asked to drink around a gallon of water of day to help deal with cramping related to the knee he had surgery on this offseason. Linta has provided medical documentation to the NFL’s league adviser for drugs of abuse, alcohol, and HIV, but the failed test has  yet to be rescinded.

If the test is not rescinded, Mettenberger will have to begin his NFL career enrolled in the NFL’s substance abuse program.

The news may not bode well for Mettenberger if teams don’t buy his agent’s story, because failing the Combine drug test is a major red flag for a prospect. Since each NFL Draft prospect knows there will be a drug test at the Combine, one would think it would be pretty easy for these players to plan ahead and stop using drugs, even just in the month(s) leading up to the test.

It’s unknown if the Vikings interest in Mettenberger will change due to the test results. Mettenberger seems to fit the prototype for a Norv Turner quarterback, as he has great size and a very strong arm. Mettenberger also ran an offensive system extremely similar to Turner’s in college, and excelled in it.

Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News picked Mettenberger as one of three quarterbacks he thought the Vikings could end up with just at the beginning of this week.

But new information just coming to public attention could have shifted the Vikings draft board.

Mettenberger also has a back issue that some teams have flagged, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Mettenberger has a back issue called spondylolysis that could affect his long term durability in the NFL, even though his back does not require surgery.

Mettenberger’s former athletic trainer at LSU, Jack Marucci, denies the quarterback’s back will be an issue in the NFL though.

“Did it flare up in his career? Yes. We would treat it and then it would be fine,” Marucci told “This shouldn’t be a big deal as long as you treat it, we did some core stabilization. His senior year, we didn’t even talk about it.”

Marucci said Mettenberger’s back became less of an issue once offensive coordinator Cam Cameron fixed up his mechanics before his senior season.

Of course, it’s possible that both these flags turn out to be a non-issue once Mettenberger reaches the NFL. The NFL could still rescind the failed drug test and maybe a team’s athletic trainer will come to the same conclusion Marucci did and consider Mettenberger’s back a non-issue. The injury story itself could just be a team trying to drop Mettenberger’s stock at the last minute, in the hopes to pick him up at a more favorable draft slot.

But for a guy who already has red flags after pleading guilty to sexual battery in 2010, stories like this a few days before the draft have to stress Mettenberger’s camp out.

Will it prevent him from being a Vikings? That remains to be seen.

What do you think Vikings fans? Have you been scared off Mettenberger? Or do you accept his agent’s’ explanation and Marucci’s point of view and think the flags are a non-issue? Sound off in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @Goatman102!