Editor’s Note: The season is just beginning for DLF! We continue our 2019 Early Look series today as the new year really puts our rookie coverage into high gear. Enjoy all we have to offer in the upcoming months and thanks to all of you for making DLF the world’s number one dynasty fantasy football site.
D.K. Metcalf is one of the most hyped prospects in this class, and for good reason. Dynasty and devy players have been looking forward to watching the 6’4”, 230-pound athletic marvel play in the NFL since he made his collegiate debut back in 2016. However, Metcalf has been a bit of a tease to this point. What can we expect from him at the pro level?
As A Recruit
Metcalf was a four-star recruit out of Oxford High School in Oxford, Mississippi. According to 247Sports, Metcalf’s .9485 composite ranking rated him as the 110th-best overall and 16th-best wide receiver prospect in the country.
The nearly 6’4”, 205-pound Metcalf received offers from nine schools — Auburn, Miami, Mississippi State, UCLA, Oregon, California, Nebraska, and Duke – before deciding to attend Ole Miss, just a mile down the road from his hometown.
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Unlike many of his peers in this class, Metcalf hasn’t put up gaudy statistics at any point in his collegiate career.
Stats courtesy of sports-reference.com.
Metcalf’s true freshman campaign in 2016 was cut short due to a broken foot before he really got a chance to play. Appearing in two games, he caught one pass in each that both went for touchdowns, foreshadowing the type of touchdown production he’d generate over the next two seasons.
Metcalf burst onto the scene in his 2017 redshirt freshman season, catching 39 passes for 646 yards and seven touchdowns. He displayed his immense potential throughout the year, but a quick look at his game log shows that he often disappeared for stretches of games at a time — which essentially summarizes the debate that many analysts currently have about Metcalf.
The 2018 season is when Metcalf finally started putting everything together.
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) December 10, 2018
He scored five touchdowns in his first six games of the year before going down for the year with a neck injury in mid-October. Metcalf ran better routes, was more consistent from game to game, and did it while averaging 18.3 yards per reception.
This is what D.K. Metcalf does: pic.twitter.com/HDv3Vj5udx
— ryan (@StillRyanFive) December 4, 2018
If you want the premier size-speed freak of this wide receiver class, look no further than Metcalf. He has been timed at 4.46 in the 40-yard dash in the past, and in addition to his frame and speed, he can vertical jump 37.5 inches, broad jump 11’1”, bench press 330 pounds, and power clean 350 pounds.
— Brad McDaniel (@DFF_BMack) September 22, 2018
Metcalf’s family tree and bloodlines are absurd. D.K.’s father, uncle, and grandfather all played in the NFL for multiple seasons, and his uncle Eric was one of the most versatile players of all time, totaling nearly 8,000 scrimmage yards and 59 total touchdowns over a 13-year career.
If you were to build a prototypical alpha receiver, he’d probably look exactly like Metcalf, which is what is so tantalizing to NFL teams and dynasty players.
I doubt that they end up mattering much in the end, but it is worth noting that two out of his three eligible collegiate seasons have ended due to injuries. While random and unrelated, either (or potentially both) injuries could give certain teams pause. His medicals will be a critical piece of his evaluation.
- Size and athleticism: long speed, acceleration, frame
- Impressive release against press coverage
- Vertical threat: speed, tracks the ball well over his shoulder, stacks defensive backs well
- Red zone threat: size, high-point ability, catch radius
- Exciting run after catch (RAC) ability
- Strong blocker when engaged
- Physical, tough, and high-effort player
- Poor raw production and market share numbers
- Limited route tree: Ole Miss’ scheme primarily restricted him to the boundary
- Inconsistent at the catch point: hands, ball security, mistimed jumps
- Exclusively lined up at left (X) wide receiver
- Injury history
Metcalf plays a lot like Josh Gordon.
His physical profile and traits make him a rare prospect that NFL teams will covet. Evaluators around the league will recognize that a poor offensive scheme limited what he was asked to do in terms of a route tree and will give him the flexibility and freedom to use his evident natural traits.
Metcalf has strong hands and it shows when he wins in contested catch situations, which make his concentration drops even more frustrating. He still has work to do in terms of cleaning up the drops scattered throughout his tape, learning the nuances of route running, and eliminating some of the wasted steps he occasionally shows in his releases. With that being said, he’s a more polished product than many believe, although he still has tons of room for growth.
If he develops into what he can become, he’ll be the NFL’s next Julio Jones. If not, he’ll be another upside player to flame out. However, given the improvement he’s shown from year to year, I’d wager that he continues to improve at the next level, although the coaching and technique he receives will be critical.
Again, his medicals are going to play a big part in determining how NFL teams view Metcalf. If everything checks out, he’s tantalizing enough that he could be a top-20 pick. He is unlikely to fall past the beginning of the second round in the NFL Draft unless teams flag his neck injury that required surgery.
Metcalf’s evaluation requires a lot of projection.
On one hand, he’s had a hard time staying on the field and is still relatively raw. Hoping for players to continue to develop at the NFL level leads dynasty players to overdraft receivers year after year.
On the other hand, his size, speed, and potential are incredibly appealing. Rookie fever tends to build as February approaches, and phenoms like him are the biggest beneficiaries and “risers” from the Combine year after year. I would be willing to bet that his February ADP will be the lowest we see for a long time.
The interesting part about the 2019 rookie class is that there seems to be no consensus. Different analysts prefer different receivers, which will end up driving down the price of all of them initially. At least pre-Combine, there likely will be little difference between the 1.01 and the 1.03.
Metcalf is my rookie 1.01 and sits atop a tier shared with N’Keal Harry and Kelvin Harmon. Most rookie and devy rankers at DLF have Metcalf within their top five, and he’s our consensus devy WR2 (behind Harry).
I’ve long been a sucker for potential at the wide receiver position, and nobody in this class has more of it than Metcalf. Whether he realizes all of it or not will ultimately determine how valuable a dynasty asset he will become.
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