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D.K. Metcalf isn’t just a physical marvel. He can also be a helluva receiver for the Seahawks

Retired defensive end Stephen White says Metcalf has upside other receivers don’t.

The Seattle Seahawks picked D.K. Metcalf 64th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Here’s what Stephen White had to say about Metcalf ahead of the draft:

One thing I think we can all agree on is that D.K. Metcalf is a physical specimen!

This kid stands at 6’3, weighs almost 230 pounds, and just blazed a 4.33 40 at the NFL Combine. In a show of ridiculous explosion for a man his size, Metcalf went over 40 inches in his vertical leap. Oh, and not only did he show he was athletic, Metcalf also showed he packs a punch too, after lifting 225 pounds 27 times.

How often have you seen a wideout go for almost 30 reps on the bench press?

That was, by any measure, an amazing performance by Metcalf in Indianapolis.

I didn’t actually watch his Ole Miss film till after he was done working out at the combine, so I was looking forward to seeing if those numbers translated to his on-field play last season.

Well, there were several occasions when Metcalf was able to showcase his outstanding straight-line speed. He’s definitely fast fast, and not some track guy trying to pass himself off as a football player.

He also had an occasion or two when he had to leap high up in the air to come down with the ball where he was able to display that vertical explosion. And, even though he didn’t block all that often in the four games watched, I did get to see Metcalf violently pancake a defensive back with one hand.

So I would say his strength was absolutely confirmed on tape as well.

Metcalf deserved more opportunities to show what he could do.

The problem biggest problem I had was that in games I watched, Metcalf just was not given enough opportunities to really flaunt his talents. There was no excuse for him to end up with only 13 catches combined in those four games.

I touched on Ole Miss’ quarterback being a part of the problem in my previous draft profile of A.J. Brown, Metcalf’s teammate and fellow first-round wide receiver prospect. So I won’t get into all those criticisms again. Just know that the things I said in Brown’s profile about it also apply to Metcalf’s situation.

I also straight up do not believe Ole Miss’ staff did enough to feed Metcalf (nor Brown for that matter) the ball. Here is a guy who is a matchup problem for most of the corners he faced, but he can’t get but a handful of targets each game?

Come on, mane! *Boosie voice*

They wouldn’t even feed him when they were down big and needed some plays to try to crawl back in the game.

The crazy thing is Metcalf showed pretty good run-after-catch skills, so it’s not like they had to throw him deep balls all the time. Hell I, for one, would have loved to have seen Metcalf catch a few more short passes just to watch smaller secondary guys try to come up and tackle him.

But, alas, that just wasn’t the case most of the time in those four games.

While we are on the subject of routes, Metcalf also ran a limited route tree just like Brown. They had Metcalf running a gang of 5-yard stops, even though they hardly threw the ball to him on those plays. They also had him running a bunch of go routes like he was at a track meet every week, and yet he didn’t get many balls thrown his way on those plays, either. He did run a few slants and crossing routes to boot, but that’s about it when it comes to route diversity in the games that I watched.

And, of course, there were plenty of times when he was open and didn’t get a target.

He simply wasn’t put in position to be as dominant as his skillset says he should have been. If you are wondering why he didn’t have the gaudy numbers in college that you would think someone with his physical ability should have attained, you can start there.

Whichever team drafts him needs to let Metcalf do what he does best: make big plays.

Even with those limited opportunities, what his tape did show is that Metcalf has been blessed with a ton of potential. He is far from being a finished product, but as far as his evaluation goes, that could be a good thing for a team looking to draft him. There is still room to teach him and mold him so that he can really maximize his size, speed, and power.

And look, I know a lot of people are focusing on Metcalf’s “slow” short shuttle and three-cone times, and I definitely get the concerns. I guess I’m just wondering where those folks think the slow short shuttle and three-cone times are going to translate in a negative way to Metcalf’s play on the field.

Excuse my French, but make no mistake about this. Yeah, you want to him to be able to run the complete route tree well, but you don’t draft D.K. Metcalf to throw him a bunch of fucking hitch routes, anyway.

You draft D.K. Metcalf to flip the fucking field on offense.

Sure, he is certainly going to have to be able to get open and make catches on shorter routes as well, but a bunch of receivers can do that. You draft Metcalf so you can put him in position to do the shit an average receiver can’t do. If he can’t do anything else right away, I’d bet a shiny new nickel that Metcalf will have a lot of success on 50-50 balls in the NFL from day one.

Even if that was all he could do, it would damn near be worth it to take him in the first round. It’s not like most first-round picks are breaking the bank on their first contract these days anymore, anyway. To be able to add a guy who can get you at least two or three 20+ yard passes a game for relatively cheap is something I am pretty sure I could live with.

Especially when that receiver’s best days are still ahead of him. At worst he is going to be strictly a vertical guy and a red zone threat. But imagine if he developed into a lot more than that. You are talking about a player whose floor is already pretty high and his ceiling is damn near in the stratosphere, slow three-cone time be damned.

His hands are a bit of a red flag, though.

Having said all those nice, and accurate, things about Metcalf, if I did have a problem with his game it would be his hands. They seem a little suspect to me.

He had four drops in four games, which maybe wouldn’t have been so bad if he had gotten more targets.

But he didn’t, which magnified those drops even more.

I can usually live with a few drops from receiver prospects, especially if they are big-play guys. However, what I try to focus on is whether they are concentration drops or technique drops.

On concentration drops the guy usually has his hands in the right position, but he tries to run before he has secured the catch and the ball ends up on the ground. I can live with concentration drops because I feel like those are easier to correct.

Technique drops are a little trickier because those usually happen when a guy’s hands are out of whack as he tries to catch the ball. I’m a big proponent of receivers catching the ball with their thumbs together (the “right” way) whenever possible. On shorter passes or deep bombs, sometimes it is untenable to try to catch with your thumbs together, but on the overwhelming majority of targets to any receiver that shouldn’t be the case.

When receivers catch the ball the “wrong” way with their pinkies together most of the time, I have a hard time having confidence in their hands. Some guys can make it work, but a lot of them end up with a ton of drops just because of how they try to catch the ball.

Not all of Metcalf’s drops were when he tried to catch the ball the “wrong” way, however, and he actually made catches when his hands were the “wrong” way, too. To me that says that he is used to trying to catch a football that way, and now that it’s a habit he may have a hard time transitioning to primarily making catches with his thumbs together.

Stephen Hill is Metcalf’s cautionary tale.

That seems like a small thing, but being able to catch the ball should literally be at the top of the job description for a wide receiver in the NFL. If you can’t catch, I don’t give a damn how fast you can run, or how high you can jump. You can’t make big plays with feet for hands.

Just ask Stephen Hill.

You do remember the former second-round pick for the Jets, right? Because his combine numbers aren’t that far off from Metcalf’s and size-wise they are similar as well. But Hill couldn’t catch a cold bucket nekkid at the North Pole, and he ended up being just and unfortunate footnote in NFL history.

Now, Metcalf is no Hill by any means, but suspect hands are suspect hands.

As I said before, I don’t really feel like I got to see Metcalf try to catch enough balls to get a good feel for just how good or bad his hands are, but it is something I am going to keep an eye on after he is drafted this spring.

Verdict: Metcalf is gonna be fun to watch in the NFL.

At any rate, even with a small question mark about his hands, I still believe Metcalf is worthy of a first-round pick because of the prodigious potential he brings to the table. They don’t grow big, tall wide receivers who can run 4.3s on trees. I don’t think he has come close to maximizing his physical gifts so far, and just thinking about what Metcalf could develop into on the next level is scary.

I hope that whichever team drafts him dials up several deep shots for Metcalf every game. Even if he doesn’t catch it, there is a great chance that he will at least draw a defensive pass interference penalty with the physical nature of his play.

And let’s not forget, he could always just run by a lot of NFL corners in man-to-man, too.

I don’t know that Metcalf will ever be a guy that catches 100 balls in a season or even close to that many, but I do think he should have a great shot to be among the league leaders in yards per catch. With his size and leaping ability, he should also be a helluva red zone threat right away.

There is no need to overthink this. With just a little bit of coaching and seasoning, Metcalf has a chance to end up being the crown jewel in this defense-dominated draft class. But even if he doesn’t turn out to be an All-Pro, barring injury his floor should still be a very good No. 2 wide receiver in the NFL.

And at a rookie wage scale salary, I’d have a really hard time passing on his potential if I were picking in the middle of the first round or later. Metcalf is a chance I’d be willing to take.

For the purposes of this breakdown, I watched D.K. Metcalf play against Texas Tech, Alabama, LSU, and the University of Louisiana Monroe. Those represented the first, third, fifth, and sixth games on Ole Miss’ schedule last season, respectively.