PICTURED—D.K. Metcalf // Original Photo—BuffaloNews.com
Skill position NFL prospects you should know: D.K. Metcalf By Jessica Koffie (Sunday April 21st, 2019)
The 2019 NFL Draftis fast approaching and the conversation around which prospects should end up where hasn’t been a simple one.
Mock draft lists by various experts have been conflicted for months as teams try to cover up their strategies by releasing conflicting information.
Free agency moves (both on and off the field) have also kept openings fluctuating all over the league. Fans of just about every franchise are losing it over all the wild changes that have already happened--myself included.
Rumours since the end of the college football season have mostly highlighted the defence-heavy class and potential record-breaking quarterbacks (looking at you, Nick Bosa and Kyler Murray).
In this article series, we’ll take a look at the skill position first-rounders who deserved more attention than they received this offseason.
These are studs who have elite upsides and are potentially some of the NFL’s newest rookie phenoms.
D.K. Metcalf- WR, Sophomore, Mississippi
There are a number of rare talents in this year’s draft, and then there’s DK Metcalf. The 6’3”, 230-lbs wideout unfairly dwarfed opponents all over the field in college. His raw athleticism and physicality have made him a nightmare for corners to cover.
That size will almost certainly transition to the pro level and help give him a matchup advantage against a higher calibre of defenders.
The former Rebel has the frame to withstand tackles and the run-after-catch ability to get downfield, averaging 18.8 yards per reception over his college career.
If that isn’t intimidating enough, his horizontal and vertical explosiveness --demonstrated by a 4.33 40 time and 40-inch leap at the Combine-- make him a threat in game situations such as outside go routes, hail marys, red zone plays, and 50-50 jump balls. He can basically catch anything coming his way through the air (like a young Josh Gordon).
It’s no wonder why he’s projected to be an unpolished offensive gem hidden in this defence-dominant draft.
The Mississippi native’s talents aren’t unappreciated by any means. He is listed as the top prospect at his position and is viewed as an instant starter by sources like NFL Network and The Draft Network.
But again, this year’s focus has been on the defensive side of the ball and that may cause the 21-year-old’s abilities to be overlooked.
The bulk of his resume comes from the 2017 season, due to missing most of 2016 with a broken foot and five games in 2018 from a neck injury.
In his lone complete season, the then-redshirt freshman caught 39 passes for 646 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games. Before this year was cut short, he was averaging 21.9 yards per catch with 569 yards and found the end zone five times through seven games. Even in his two-game freshman campaign, he caught two touchdowns before going down.
Metcalf’s critics point to his truncated sample size as a reason to doubt what his skill-set shows he’s able to do, but perhaps the biggest knock on his draft stock comes from his limited targets and route diversity in FBS play.
There were a number of factors contributing to those problems, starting with Jordan Ta’amu’s inconsistencies at quarterback and ending with Ole Miss’ play calls.
And did I mention that he split the targets he did get with his receiving counterpart and fellow first-rounder A.J. Brown (who was also under targeted)?
To put it simply, outside of the time he spent injured the redshirt sophomore wasn’t fed the ball nearly enough throughout his NCAA career, which only hindered the number of opportunities he had to flaunt his capabilities.
Any NFL team willing to take a chance on drafting the pass-catcher in the first round will receive a moldable monster; a big playmaker who can be coached to fit almost any offensive scheme while simultaneously developing his speed, size, and strength to meet, or exceed, the league standard.
There are a handful of franchises with the combination of a first-round pick and a good coaching staff-quarterback situation that would help Metcalf thrive in the NFL.
Teams like the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, or New England Patriots are all candidates who could benefit from adding the vertical passing threat.
If a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck or (God forbid) Tom Brady were to get their hands on the former SEC All-Freshman receiver and use him properly, there’s no telling where his ceiling ends.
So, whichever team ends up drafting him should do every NFL fan a favour: feed DK Metcalf and watch him eat.