With the 2014 NFL Draft a mere days away, a couple of former Tigers have found their name in media circulation for the wrong reasons.
According to reports, Mettenberger's urine sample was flagged for being too diluted, a fact which his agent has made public with an accompanying explanation, even submitting a physician's letter to the NFL.
There are less concrete details in Johnson's case, although Fox Sports reported his was among the failed tests.
To gain more perspective on the implications of this news for Johnson and Mettenberger, especially so close to the draft, I went to two veteran NFL reporters in the SCOUT family.
Below, Aaron Wilson of RavensInsider.com and Tim Yotter of VikingUpdate.com lend their expertise to the situation, sounding off on the affect flagged tests can have on draft entrants, which of the two LSU players named will be more negatively impacted and how this whole dynamic has changed in recent decades.
Aaron Wilson, RavensInsider.com
I think it's more harmful to Anthony Johnson than it is to Zach Mettenberger. I think people have a good comfort level with Zach and have done a lot of homework on him from a character standpoint.
I think there's also a plausible explanation. You get a copy of the letter that his therapist sent to the NFL Drug Policy guy, and I think it does make some sense that he could've been dehydrated and had a sample with too much water in it.
In terms of Anthony, I'm not as familiar with him. Everything that's been out there has been about a failed drug test, not a diluted sample. The NFL will technically treat both of those the same in terms of the drug program, but in terms of just character red flags, you know this test is coming and you should be able to stop for a month if you are someone who does use marijuana or some other recreational drug. It would've been even bigger if it was a performance enhancer, but nobody says it was. I think it's just one of the more generic substance abuse issues. With him, obviously that hurts. That will have at least a round impact on his draft status. With Zach, I think he's a second-rounder no matter what.
Tim Yotter, VikingUpdate.com
Historically I think things have changed. From a Vikings perspective, initially when you look at a Warren Sapp, in the days before his draft day, reports came out about his problems. I think the Vikings would've been very interested in him if not for those reports. Now, a couple decades later, I don't think they (flagged tests) mean quite as much because I think that teams believe in general that if it's kinda a first-time offense or maybe a first known offense, then maybe it was a mistake.
Now I have a little bit of an issue with guys that have problems with their testing at the Combine when they know full well going into the thing that they're going to be tested for it. To me it shows a little bit of a lack of intelligence, I guess, if you are getting caught for marijuana usage or whatever it may be before the Combine. I mean, you know (about the test) and you have a couple of months to clean out your system if that's really what you want to do.
Ultimately these days it comes down to ‘Is this a one-time situation or is this a pattern?' I think NFL teams these days are much more prepared to make that assessment. They have so many resources out there, studying up on these kids – getting their injury history, their off-the-field problems are investigated, they look at their social media, they talk to a ton of coaches, friends, ex-girlfriends. It's amazing the amount of research that goes into a prospect these days. So I don't think in general, if a guy gets busted for marijuana or some other drug, a lot of times it's a surprise to these NFL teams. It's just one more piece of evidence against the prospect.