Odell Beckham Jr.
The news of the week for the San Diego Chargers was the acquisition of former Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The Bolts claimed him off waivers Tuesday and released quarterback Bryn Renner to make space on the roster.
With Mettenberger in the fold that makes three quarterbacks at camp vying for the back-up quarterback position behind Philip Rivers. Kellen Clemens and undrafted free agent Mike Bercovici are the other quarterbacks filling out what will be a very interesting camp battle.
Mettenberger, 24, was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Titans. Standing 6’5″, 224 pounds, Mettenberger was a standout quarterback at LSU. Moving into the starting lineup in his junior season, Mettenberger excelled right away. In leading the Tigers to a 10-3 (6-2 in the SEC) season, Mettenberger went 207-352 for 2,609 yards, 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. They lost by one point in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to Clemson 25-24. LSU finished 12th in the Coaches Poll and 14th in the Associated Press Poll that year.
In his senior season, Mettenberger made another quantum leap forward. Although they duplicated their record from the previous season at 10-3 (5-3 vs. the SEC), Mettenberger went 192-296 for 3,082 yards, 22 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. The Tigers finished 14th in the AP and Coaches Poll as a result.
According to his 2014 draft profile on numerous NFL sites including NFL.com and WalterFootball.com, Mettenberger’s strengths are his outstanding arm strength, size, field vision and working from a pro-style offense in college. In his senior season he had a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron calling his plays. Cameron had just left the same position for the San Diego Chargers that offseason. Cameron’s arrival was key in Mettenberger’s senior year explosion.
Mettenberger’s perceived weaknesses were his footwork, work-ethic, long delivery and needing to improve his accuracy. For all intents and purposes Mettenberger had second-round talent. The main catalyst in his plunge into the late rounds was an ACL injury he suffered in the final game of the 2013 regular season. The injury prevented Mettenberger from participating in the NFL Combine. He did shine at LSU’s Pro Day where he completed 90% of his 125 passes.
The discussion of who the heir apparent to Philip Rivers should be has raged on for multiple seasons. We all know Scott Tolzien, Brad Sorensen, Kellen Clemens and Charlie Whitehurst were never going to be the answer to that question.
Mettenberger already has the advantage of knowing the system of new Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt was the head coach for the Titans for both of Mettenbergers’ years in Nashville. The last time the Chargers made the playoffs was the one year Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator. The Chargers leaped from 31st to 5th in total offense in that season. Tennessee offered him their head coach position immediately after the season. He was fired halfway through his second season as head coach.
Whisenhunt brought John McNulty with him from Tennessee to be the Bolts new tight ends coach. McNulty was Mettenbergers’ quarterbacks coach in Tennessee. In a new interview with Ricky Henne of Chargers.com his had this to say about reuniting with his old coaches:
“I was definitely relieved to come to a situation where the future looks good for me. That was a long 24 hours to be waiting so it was great to hear his voice.” Mettenberger was speaking of Ken Whisenhunt, who called Mettenberger immediately after the waiver claim was official. Mettenberger continued. “The first thing he asked me was if I still remember the playbook. Fortunately, I know it really well. He was really excited to get back to work with me. He was the one who drafted me, so it’s worked out really well. It’s awesome to be back with Coach Whiz and Coach McNulty.”
Did the Chargers just stumble onto their quarterback of the future?
Pessimists will point to the fact that Mettenberger is 0-10 as a starting quarterback in the NFL. That is true. What also can’t be disputed is how awful the Tennessee Titans have been over the past two seasons. The Titans were 2-14 the season Mettenberger was drafted and 3-13 in 2015. The Titans ranked 25th or lower in the NFL in rushing yards, passing yards, points for and points against.
Mettenberger had a better offense at LSU than he had in Tennessee. At least at LSU he had Pro Bowlers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. to catch the ball. Alfred Blue and Jeremy Hill were chewing up yards running the football.
Mettenberger is in an ideal situation in San Diego. With his knowledge of the offense and coaches he already has a leg up on Clemens and Bercovici. He now has a better team and an elite, veteran NFL quarterback as a mentor. Rivers’ contract ends at the conclusion of the 2019 season. In three seasons Mettenberger will be 27 and ready to step into the starting spot. There is no pressure to produce right away as there was in Tennessee.
We’ve seen this situation play out with great success when you consider stars like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Rivers himself. All of them watched from the bench for a season or more before their number was called. All of them will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio one day.
The reset button has been pushed on Zach Mettenberger’s career. For the first time since the departure of Drew Brees there appears to be a capable second-in-command waiting in the wings. Is Mettenberger that man? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Former Bills and 49ers wide receiver Stevie Johnson chose to sign with the Chargers on Tuesday for three years and about $10.5 million. That fills a much-needed veteran receiver spot after Eddie Royal signed with the Bears. So, are they done? Do the Bolts need to draft a receiver? Yes, they still need to draft a receiver.
Receivers currently on the active roster: Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Stevie Johnson, Jacoby Jones, and Dontrelle Inman.
Allen is the youngest at 22, and the one with the most upside. The second youngest is Inman. He played a total of two games last season and did fine, but seems to have little upside. Johnson, 28, has seen his production fall off since his last season in Buffalo (2013). Floyd and Jones are 33 and 30, respectively. M-80 is two seasons removed from what could have been a career-ending neck injury. In 2014, he played a 16-game season for the second time in his career. Jacoby seems to be more of a deep threat receiver than an every down receiver. So, with that being said, the depth on this team in the receiving corps is still thin.
Some receivers to watch for in this upcoming draft:
This year’s NFL draft is loaded with wide receivers. This is a perfect opportunity for the Bolts to draft one. Here’s a few that could be there for San Diego at pick #17:
DeVante Parker: Senior from Louisville 6’3″, 209 pounds.
He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 36 1/2 inches. His last season at Louisville he had 43 catches for 855 yards and five touchdowns. He leaves Louisville with 2,775 career receiving yards and 33 career touchdown catches, ranking him in the top-five in Louisville football history in those categories. Every time I watched him, he looked a lot like Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. He could come in right away and help out.
Jaelen Strong: Junior from Arizona State 6’2″, 217 pounds.
He ran a 4.4 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 42 inches. His last season at Arizona State he had 82 catches for 1,165 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is a very good jump-ball receiver who is a crisp route runner. His hands are the best part about him. He has hands similar to those of Odell Beckham Jr, as in the ball sticks to him. He could have an impact day one.
Dorial Green-Beckham: 6’5″, 237 pounds.
He ran a 4.49 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 33 1/2. He transferred from Missouri to Oklahoma and was suspended for the 2014 season. But in the final season he played, he had 59 catches for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has a big catching radius and quarterbacks can just throw the ball up to him, something Philip Rivers loves to do. He has been compared to Julio Jones, in terms of talent. His off-the-field trouble has him ranked as the fifth best receiver by many in this draft class. If it wasn’t for the off-the-field troubles, he could very well be battling Amari Cooper and Kevin White for the number one ranked receiver in the class.
The Chargers should take a look at all three of these options at #17 for receiver help. If this is the way general manager Tom Telesco wants to go, he will add an immediate starter and a future number one receiver to go along with Keenan Allen. What do you guys think? Who do you like in the draft? Let me know below!
The NFL is full of the most elite football players from all over the world with incredible athletic abilities; Odell Beckham Jr.’s three finger catch says enough. With the top athletes facing off every week, a team knows there is one thing they need to do in order to outperform their opponent; win the turnover battle every single game.
In 2013, teams that win the turnover battle have a 72-17 record; going 810-220-2 from 2008 to 2012. According to Steve Mariucci, an NFL Network analyst and former head coach, “It’s all about the number of possessions”, and he’s right. Ultimately, turnovers dictate the amount of possessions a team has and the number of scoring opportunities.
For the Chargers, winning the battle this season has landed them a 6-0 record. Even games ending in turnover ties has given them two more wins. Basically, the Chargers success thus far has been from limiting giveaways and forcing the takeaways.
Since week one against the Arizona Cardinals, the Chargers have had a total of 12 turnovers while their opponents have had 13. Currently, San Diego ranks 13th in the NFL in turnover margin per game, for a turnover differential of 1. In addition, they rank 6th in team fumbles and fumbles lost with 11 fumbles and only 3 lost. Since Mike McCoy took over the head coach position, he has reiterated how important it is to limit turnovers and force them. In the five-game win streak earlier this year, the Chargers had seven takeaways and only one giveaway. Unfortunately, that record was snapped during the three-game losing streak; turning the ball over seven times and not a single takeaway.
Since 2010, the Chargers have only had one season with a positive turnover differential. Even making it to the postseason last year, the Chargers ended with a -4 differential. It was Tom Telesco’s responsibility to add play makers to the defensive unit. Brandon Flowers was a free agent signee in the offseason and has accrued three interceptions this year so far. Before the season ending shoulder injury to rookie cornerback Jason Verrett, he had one interception and ranked 10th-best cornerback by Pro Football Focus. Even Corey Liuget has added to the equation with two forced fumbles; ranking him 23rd in the league. At this time, the Chargers rank 9th in over team defense. They will need to hold this, if not improve, in order for a potential postseason appearance.
In order for the Chargers to advance their record and earn a spot in the playoffs, the team has to win the turnover battle every single time; there’s absolutely no way around it. Back in 2012, three of the top four teams that won the battle in the AFC went onto the playoffs. Heading into the final five games of the season, the Chargers are set to face off against the league’s top teams. Of those five teams, three rank better than San Diego in team turnover differential; the New England Patriots ranking 2nd among all teams. If that isn’t intimidating enough, of the five quarterbacks the defense has to play, four rank higher than Philip Rivers in touchdown-to-interceptions ratio; 3.4 total combined against Rivers’ 2.4.
For the remainder of the season, the offense needs to limit their mistakes and the defensive needs to make game changing plays. The winner of the turnover battle will win football games every time. We all know Rivers does the unthinkable in December, he is the NFL’s third highest-rated passer in December/January (99.0) with a 71-to-22 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but will his success continue? Stay tuned Charger fans for the next five weeks.
Despite what many of us would consider to be a difficult time – waiting this long for the draft to occur, that is – we are less than a week from the NFL’s premiere offseason activity. The cattle call that is the NFL draft will be taking place before you know it. I’ll be in New York City in the blink of an eye. I’m on a plane as we speak, heading to Charlotte to see my amazing children. Then it’s time to take over NYC and the NFL draft. ( Editor’s Note: I began writing this on 5/3)
This is a big year for the Chargers and Tom Telesco. After having what many of us consider to be a solid 2013 draft class, the hope is to replicate last year’s success. Telesco nailed three potential first rounders in the first three rounds of the draft in his first go-around as an NFL GM. Perhaps, the expectation level increases knowing that a player like Stevie Williams, a fifth-round selection, has yet to play in a regular season game. Tourek Williams made the occasional play as well, despite being a sixth round pick. Additionally, Brad Sorensen managed to stay on the ’13 roster as the third quarterback. That could say a lot about what the team has in mind for the former Southern Utah signal caller.
I find it safe to say that the 2013 draft was a success. And, I think that most people in here would agree. But does that put even more pressure on Telesco to trump his rookie attempt at building the team through the draft? Sure, I can get behind that kind of thinking.
Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The NFL did a great job, in my opinion, of mixing up the prospects. So, the question remains, and I’ll leave it to you, is the next Charger going to be an invitee to Radio City Music Hall? Popular mock draft choices landing in America’s finest city such as Louis Nix III and Kyle Van Noy were not invited ( That is according to the above list which is credited to NFL.com).
Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
A few weeks back I posted the first edition of my Chargers 7 round mock draft. It received, as expected, quite a bit of debate. Some people liked it, while others hated it. Thus is the standard when it comes to mock drafts. You can’t possibly please everyone.
I remember a time when….
Just kidding. I am not going to talk incessantly prior to this mock. Let’s just get on with it.
1st round: Odell Beckham Jr. WR LSU 5’11” 198 pounds
It is no secret that the Chargers are in the market for another starting wide receiver. They had been showing interest in both Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks prior to them signing with Baltimore and Indianapolis, respectively. OBJ can take the top off a defense with his great speed. He is very quick to get up to top speed due to his stellar acceleration. He also brings to the table a solid ability in the return game. Don’t let the drafting of a wide receiver from LSU in the first round scare you. He can play.
2nd round: Marcus Martin C/G USC 6’3″ 320 pounds
Martin is the best center prospect in the entire draft. Furthermore, he can easily play guard on the San Diego offensive line while Nick Hardwick finishes off his solid career in the NFL with the Chargers. He is very physical and takes advantage of his short stature to gain solid leverage against defenders. Has some nasty to his game and he has yet to reach his ceiling. MArtin would be an excellent choice in the second round.
3rd round: Pierre Desir CB Lindenwood 6’1″ 198 pounds
Despite being incredibly raw, Desir has a bright future in front of him. He has great size for the position and his speed is good for a corner of his size. When looking at a small-school prospect like Desir, you want to see that player dominate against that level of competition. He did just that. He totaled 25 interceptions during his time in college. He was a division II All-American as well.
4th round: Brett Smith QB Wyoming 6’2″ 206 pounds
The closer we get to the NFL draft, the more the Brett Smith hype train gets rolling. Smith is athletic for the position and has good speed as well ( clocked in the low 4.5s at his pro day recently according to Benjamin Allbright). He was little known due to going to Wyoming. Had he gone to a big name program, his name would be on the tip of many people’s tongues. His arm is not overly strong but when you watch him play you can see that he has enough arm strength to make all the throws. Like most quarterbacks, he is not as accurate on the move. Fans of the Mountain West conference have surely seen him play and most likely walked away very impressed. I am not sold on Brad Sorensen as the quarterback of the future once Philip Rivers hangs ’em up. Smith is a guy that could sit back and learn while Rivers finishes off his career in lightning bolts.
5th round: Justin Ellis NT Louisiana Tech 6’2″ 334 pounds
I know. Finally a nose tackle. Ellis is a big dude. He had solid showings at both the East-West Shrine game and the Senior bowl. Quick for his size and a heady player. Although he plays too high at times, he is good anchoring upon contact with offensive linemen; holding his ground and occupying blockers. Due to his long arm, you’ll see Ellis bat down his fair share of passes at the next level. Ellis would be a great pick in the 5th round.
6th round: Cody Latimer WR Indiana 6’2″ 215 pounds
Another wide receiver? Yup. If Latimer is still available here then you sprint to turn your card in right away. He is one of the better receivers that most people aren’t talking about. He has good height and is very good in space for that height. One of my favorite attributes about Latimer is he is a good blocker in the running game for a wide receiver. That is far more important than many people like to think. A receiving trio of Keenan Allen, OBJ and Cody Latimer means the future would be looking really good for the Charger passing attack.
7th round: Taylor Hart DE Oregon 6’6″ 281 pounds
Hart hasn’t missed a start in his last three seasons in Eugene. Very intelligent player. Has good quickness for a defensive lineman. Played multiple spots along the line showing off his versatility. He was named second team All-Pac 12 in 2013. Hart would be a nice add this late in the draft.
That concludes this edition of my Chargers 7 round mock draft. Let me know what you think by leaving your thoughts below in the comment section.