D.K. Metcalf Fantasy
In the words of the great Cris Collinsworth of Pro Football Focus, “Now here’s a guy…who has the size and speed traits to dominate at the pro football level. After the 2018 season, D.K. Metcalf from the University of Mississippi declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, foregoing his last two years of college football. Fantasy owners need to be excited about Metcalf because his ceiling and potential are sky high based on his traits. His measurements mimic the likes of wide receivers Julio Jones (6’3”, 220 lbs), Calvin Johnson (6’5′, 239 lbs), and Josh Gordon (6’3”, 225 lbs). His speed is rare to find, within the physical frame he possesses.
- Height: 6 ft 3 in
- Weight: 228lbs
- Arms: 34 7/8”
- Age: 21
Metcalf comes from a football family. His father Terrence Metcalf, his uncle Eric Metcalf, and grandfather Terry Metcalf all played in the NFL. His father was a guard for the Bears for seven seasons. His uncle was a first-round pick running back/wide receiver/return specialist and was a 3-time All-Pro selection. His grandfather played running back for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1970s. Also, D.K. Metcalf’s full name is DeKaylin Zecharius Metcalf.
In 2017, Metcalf’s only fully healthy season in the NCAA, he ranked 22nd in yards/reception (16.6), 70th in yards after catch/reception (5.5) and his yards/route run was 1.47 ranked 146th. Minimum 70 targets. In 2018, in the NCAA, Metcalf ranked sixth in yards/reception (21.9), seventh in yards after catch/reception (9.7), and 30th in yards/route run (2.83). Minimum of 42 targets.
NFL Combine Recap
- 40 Yard Dash: 4.33
- Bench Press: 27
- Vertical Jump: 40.5
- 3 Cone Drill: 7.38
Strengths & Weaknesses
One weakness of Metcalf is his injury concerns. Throughout his college career, he suffered two season-ending injuries. In 2016 he suffered a foot injury that ended his season after two games and in 2018 he sustained a neck injury. However, he is believed to be fully cleared for football participation recovering from that neck injury. The other weakness that might be seen as a strength by some, is actually his size. But specifically being able to maintain the ability to get in and out of breaks within his routes at his size. I doubt NFL teams will press Metcalf off the line of scrimmage unless they have a big-corner back. Metcalf excels off press coverage. That will lead more teams to have defensive backs just sit on the routes that Metcalf runs. He does not exactly run the entire route tree well. His strengths are more in line with him getting off closer man coverage.
In this clip below, Metcalf uses some clever handwork to get a release and absolutely burns Alabama cornerback Saivion Smith who is also entering the 2019 NFL Draft. This was the first and only score for Ole Miss against the Crimson Tide in this game as the final ended up 62-7. Often times in this particular game Metcalf was getting a nice release against a great defense like Alabama, but quarterback Jordan Ta’mau was just not targeting him.
Same thing in this clip from 2017. Dominates against a smaller corner in press man to man coverage.
Again, the concern for Metcalf is that teams know he will be able to get off press, so they won’t press him, but rather sit on his routes. If Metcalf is not able to move in and out of his routes with his large size and frame he will have trouble getting open. There are times, that Metcalf looks like he struggles on routes that require him to come back to the ball, rather than catching the ball in stride. Also, need to work on his sideline awareness especially with two-feet being required for catches in-bound in the NFL.
Best Fit: NFL Scheme
Metcalf fits the role as a typical outside “X” wide receiver. In 2018, he actually took 94% of his snaps from the left side of the field on the outside. He played 91% from the outside left in 2017 via Pro Football Focus. With his size, he should be able to win against smaller defensive backs and can command safety help from the defense with his top-end speed. Metcalf to succeed needs to be a with a productive NFL quarterback preferably with a strong arm that can throw a nice deep ball. Metcalf won’t catch everything thrown his way (61.7% reception rate in 2018) which is why he would benefit from playing with a solid quarterback. Metcalf did improve his catch rate drastically from 2017 where his catch rate was 53.4%.
Metcalf is one of the more polarizing wide receivers in the 2019 draft class. The biggest argument against Metcalf outside his injury was his overall college production in regards to his Ole Miss teammates. In 2017, A.J. Brown was the dominant force in the Ole Miss passing game over Metcalf after the departure of future NFL tight end Evan Engram. Brown had 75 receptions, for 1252 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns in a breakout sophomore season. In 2018, wide receiver Brown dominated the receiving game again for 85 receptions, 1320 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. DaMarkus Lodge compiled a solid stat line of 65 receptions, 977 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. But this happens from time to time with certain prospects. They do not hit that peak college production because they are surrounded by NFL talent at the college level. In this case, Metcalf was dealing with two other future NFL receivers.
For wide receivers entering the draft two factors to always take notice are college target market share and breakout age. In 2018, Metcalf averaged 6.8 targets per game in his first six games (He played just five snaps in Week 7 with his neck injury). In those same games, Brown averaged 9.1 targets per game. Lodge in six of those games averaged 6.5 targets per game. After Metcalf’s injury for the final six games, Brown averaged 10 targets per game, and Lodge averaged 11.1 targets per game.
In conclusion, Metcalf will probably be a first or second round pick based on the upside his profile carries. Teams will fall in love with this guy’s size and speed to go along with the fact that Metcalf improved in nearly every statistic from 2017 to 2018. But from a fantasy dynasty standpoint, Metcalf is a boom-bust player whose rookie season seems destined to be filled with inconsistencies. His overall college production brings up question marks and the fact that he may not have even been the best receiver on his team let alone the 2019 Draft Class. The potential for him to reach his ceiling will be drastically influenced by the team that decides to take him in April.
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