Extra Points: Mettenberger's diluted value
Philadelphia, PA (.com) - Think the NFL Draft isn't a fluid situation?
Personnel people around the league love the physical skills Zach Mettenberger brings to the table, but the former LSU quarterback is carrying more baggage these days than a Kardashian planning a weekend trip.
Some of the problems are obvious like the two sexual battery charges that resulted in Mettenberger's dismissal from the University of Georgia back in 2010 or the torn ACL which ended his college career.
The latest black mark on Mettenberger's already shaky resume, however, was revealed Monday when word leaked that he generated a diluted urine sample at the NFL Scouting Combine back in February.
A diluted sample -- whether positive or negative -- is supposed to be regarded as a failed test under the NFL's collectively bargained drug-testing agreement.
And Mettenberger, a 6-foot-5 kid who looks like he's straight out of central casting for the prototypical NFL pocket-style quarterback, was one of more than 10 prospects with positive tests from the combine, with FOX Sports reporting that Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson and Miami offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson were among the other players on the wrong end of the testing.
Mettenberger, along with Jernigan, a potential first-round pick before this news broke, were certainly the headliners, though.
Mettenberger's physical therapist, Jason Eliowitz, went into full-spin mode and claimed the test result was a result of Mettenberger's efforts to combat dehydration while rigorously rehabbing his knee.
"Mettenberger was experiencing frequent muscle cramping during the day as well as at night while trying to sleep." Eliowitz wrote in a letter to Dr. Lawrence Brown, the NFL's adviser for drugs of abuse and alcohol, according to ProfootballTalk.com.
"Thus, Mettenberger was advised to drink as much as 1 to 1.5 gallons of water per day, to increase his consumption of foods high in potassium, and to increase his sodium intake."
Jernigan's agent, Sonny Shah, told ESPN that Jernigan's test result was also a result of over-hydration.
Now before you roll your eyes, understand the explanation is at least plausible.
All human urine contains a protein called creatinine, which comes from the normal physiologic breakdown of muscle tissue. Large quantities of water can indeed dilute the creatinine present and one of the biggest problems facing employers who do drug tests are what to do with specimens reported as "Negative, dilute".
Understand, though, the confidentiality of the NFL's drug testing program is a problem here because we don't know whether Mettenberger's sample or Jernigan's came back as "negative, dilute" or "positive, dilute" -- a very important distinction.
If a specimen comes back with a "positive dilute" designation, that means a drug or metabolite was encountered and the dilution is meaningless, the sample is dirty.
On the other hand a "negative, dilute" end game could mean that Mettenberger and Jernigan are indeed just really thirsty guys with some bad luck
Mettenberger's agent, Joe Linta, is still waiting on Brown's response to the dehydration theory and an unfavorable outcome means Mettenberger, along with everyone else who tested positive in Indianapolis, enters the NFL under the cloud of a far more stringent testing regimen than the average player.
Either way, though, drug rumors three days before the draft are never good for any prospect, never mind one that has had character issues in the past and is four months removed from ACL surgery.
Mettenberger will get his chance somewhere, but this latest hiccup probably derails what was some pretty significant momentum and a likely second-round grade.
May 6, 2014, at 12:38 PM ET
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