Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect DK Metcalf, WR from Ole Miss. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
Has any wide receiver seen such a swing in his player comparisons over the course of one day as DK Metcalf during the NFL Combine? There are very few humans on earth who have his appearance; a true specimen who resembles a Madden Create-a-Player. Metcalf has become polarizing over the past few weeks, but with proper coaching and dedication can be a truly elite player.
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
Metcalf’s stats don’t look spectacular. However, he dealt with injuries throughout his college career. In his freshman season, he had two touchdowns on two receptions before breaking his foot and missing the final ten games of the season.
Having played in only two games, he was granted a medical exemption and was a (redshirt) freshman in his second year where he stayed healthy and posted a 16.4% college market share in yards, according to data from DLF writer Peter Howard. Metcalf was on the path to a big (redshirt) sophomore season in 2018 until suffering a neck injury that required surgery.
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Data provided by Peter Howard.
It is worth noting Metcalf was not utilized as a return man or in the run game during his time at Ole Miss. This is likely an offensive scheme decision as his teammates DaMarkus Lodge and AJ Brown only had one collegiate carry between both of them.
Metcalf is easily a film fan favorite. He flashes high-upside talent with explosive play after explosive play. On the field, he simply looks different than the competition around him. Whether it’s a 75-yard touchdown on the first play against Alabama, or one-handed grabs deep downfield, he is a special talent.
2018 vs Alabama
🔥 Explosive big play ability 🔥 pic.twitter.com/0zFobgJJ26
— Pete Lawrence (@_PeteLaw) February 6, 2019
- Does well adjusting to poorly-thrown passes from quarterback Jordan Ta’amu.
- Yard after catch ability against smaller defensive backs.
- Speed and stride to eat up coverage cushion. Threat to go over the top or hit a comeback. Risk for any defender to press without over-the-top safety help.
- Ability to make contested catches. Size in the red zone for back-shoulder throws and ability to wall off the defender.
2018 vs UL Monroe
• Great concentration on this catch.
• Yards after Catch ability. Great balance to stay on his feet. His deep threat ability and size/speed put defenders off balance. pic.twitter.com/laFKEecT2y
— Pete Lawrence (@_PeteLaw) February 6, 2019
- Body awareness and football IQ. Missed opportunities when stepping out of bounds and not knowing where he was on the field.
- Needs to work on his routes. Washington coaching staff told him during the combine that he needs to work on getting in and out of his breaks.
- At times, has a lot of wasted effort off the line of scrimmage. Makes too many movements in an attempt to separate off the line.
- Limited route tree.
Can D.K. Metcalf's production meet his hype in the NFL? pic.twitter.com/IMpDOs2eTy
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 28, 2019
The other big thing you pick up on is that the Ole Miss wide receivers dealt with rather poor quarterback play. Ta’amu was constantly late on throws and missed his targets. Metcalf will see a big step up in that department in the NFL.
He will need to work on his route tree. Pro Football Focus’s Scott Barrett pointed out that nearly three-quarters of Metcalf’s production came on two routes, the go or the hitch. It is obvious to see why – with his size and speed – if a defender gives him a cushion and opens his hip as Metcalf comes off the line, then they fall victim to the hitch. When that defender tries to stay close, they get beaten by the go. He will need to develop his repertoire further.
According to Mockdraftable, Metcalf’s three top comparables based on athletic testing are Jon Baldwin, Mark Harrison, and Chris Conley. Harrison failed to play in an NFL game, Baldwin is considered a massive bust and Conley has been a decent third-to-fourth option for the Chiefs. These three have produced a total of 148 receptions, 1,845 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in career NFL games.
Before the combine, Metcalf was creating a buzz with his physicality, as photos started circulating showing him bare-chested with rippling muscles on top of slabs of muscle. In Indianapolis, he produced immediately at the bench press. Few people can make bench pressing 225 pounds easy, but he did an amazing 27 reps, tying N’Keal Harry‘s record for wideouts.
On Saturday morning at the event, he blazed a 4.33-second 40-yard dash (95th percentile). Showing the explosive power and fast-twitch muscles that appear on film, he lept out of the gym with a 40 1/2” vertical (93rd) and a 134” broad (97th). At his height (87th) and weight (95th), the jumps show the incredible explosiveness in his legs.
During the agility drills, though, concerns emerged. In the three-cone drill, he ran a 7.38, in the second percentile for the position. In the 20-yard shuttle, he posted a 4.5 – in the third percentile. For comparison, Tom Brady produced better agility metrics than him.
Size could be a reason for why Metcalf underproduced. However, David Njoku – at 6-foot-4, 246 pounds – produced a 6.97-second three-cone drill (82nd percentile) and a 4.34-second 20-yard shuttle (56th percentile). Since 2003, 39 players weighing over 300 pounds have run faster three-cone drills than him.
Metcalf was still a clear winner post combine. Few players offer the combination of size and speed that he has. His 40 times were matched with TY Hilton and Tavon Austin, players known for their speed.
Looking at startup Average Draft Position data from Dynasty League Football, he is being taken around pick 43. This means that you will likely have to spend at least an early fourth-round pick to acquire him. Metcalf is going around proven veterans like Robert Woods, Jarvis Landry and young players like Mike Williams and Calvin Ridley. In DLF rookie draft ADP, he has been a lock around the first and second overall pick. Fourth overall is the lowest he went.
With his measurables and hype, I could easily see him being a player who shoots up to first round dynasty startup consideration in 2020 if he produces in the right landing spot. If a team with a proven quarterback acquires him, expect a meteoric rise similar to what we saw with receivers in the 2014 draft class.
This is a very talented draft class that has been heralded for some time, and Metcalf is possibly the player with the highest ceiling.
A lack of production can easily be explained away due to injury. The broken foot in his freshman season, followed by the neck injury in his redshirt sophomore season, took away any chance of a true breakout. Fantasy owners should not concern themselves with the injury history. If a team spends high draft capital on him, it means they are okay with how his neck has healed.
There is tantalizing upside with Metcalf. There is also a trap door floor that could set your team’s rebuild back. N’Keal Harry is the safest wide receiver in the draft class and while some might have AJ Brown or Hakeem Butler next, even recognizing the poor agility score, DK Metcalf should still be the second player taken in 1QB rookie drafts.
Pete is a Western Washington University (Go Vikings! Undefeated at Football since 2009!) History grad with a doctorate in dynasty football, from a certificate he bought online. He prefers stats and analytics but realizes film grinding is an important part of the process. Dabbles in "Mild Takes" and believes in the process.