2019 NFL ROOKIE PREVIEW: DK Metcalf – WR, Ole Miss
The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine is underway, and one of the things most of interest to dynasty fantasy football owners will be whether there’s any separation at the top of a crowded class of wide receivers. As Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz reported for USA Today, one of the receivers best-positioned to put on a show in Indianapolis is DK Metcalf of Ole Miss.
DK Metcalf the Physical Freak
“A viral photo of the 6-4, 230-pound pass catcher’s shredded physique should serve as an indication of how much attention Metcalf can grab with his physical tools,” he said. “Two season-ending injuries in three years (a broken foot in 2016 and a neck ailment requiring surgery in 2018) will prompt close examination from teams, but no other receiver in this class can match his overall physical profile. His 40-yard dash time should turn heads, though teams also will want to monitor his agility drills to see how flexible he can be with his bulked-up build.”
“Bulked-up” is an understatement—dude looks like he’s about to duke it out with Chris Hemsworth in the next “Thor” movie.
Per Clifton Brown of the Ravens (one of the teams often linked to Metcalf) website, Baltimore Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said that it’s possible for a wide receiver to be too big.
“You can be too muscular at any position if it prohibits your flexibility,” Hortiz said. “If he goes out and looks flexible still, which I expect him to be because he’s a really athletic kid, I think he’ll be fine.”
Hortiz also allowed that Metcalf’s production (26 catches for 569 yards and five scores in 2018) wasn’t ideal—but his physical tools are wildly impressive.
“If you say to yourself what’s the prototype of a big, strong wide receiver it’s D.K. Metcalf,” Hortiz said. “There’s a little rawness to him. His production is not as great as you’d like in terms of a receiver in college coming into the pros. But the things that jump out at you are his ability to go get the ball vertical. He’s got strong hands. He does drop some balls. That being said, he can use his frame, he can make the contested catch and outmuscle a corner who’s trying to come over top of him for the ball.”
That assessment jibes with the scouting report on Metcalf from Gavino Borquez of Draft Wire.
“Metcalf is a physical freak and playmaker,” he wrote. “He possesses the physicality, strength, vertical ability and athleticism to consistently win. He is a long, powerful strider that eats up big chunks of yardage. Metcalf runs through physical coverage and can simply out-muscle defenders. He has tremendous hands and is efficient at high-pointing the ball. He will dominate in the red zone due to length and size.”
“There are some raw aspects to his game,” Borquez continued, “as he gets knocked for lack of route polish and finishing plays in the air. But he exhibits a rare skill set and some NFL team will fall in love, especially if the medicals at the Combine check out. Metcalf’s rare physical traits combined with his movement skills and his ability after the catch makes him scheme diverse and will solidify him as one of the first wide receivers off the board.”
There’s not a lot Metcalf can do to allay concerns about a lack of route polish at the combine—although to be fair, that’s a common flaw among collegiate receivers. What Metcalf can do is alleviate worries about his durability with a clean medical check and unease about his straight-line speed with a solid showing in the 40-yard dash.
If Metcalf can do that, he isn’t making it out of Round 1. Not with his size, physicality, catch radius and hands.
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Borquez’s colleague Henry McKenna expects Metcalf to shine at the combine—and work his way into the top-10 in April’s draft in the process.
“Once the combine is over,” he said, “Metcalf will have entrenched himself as a top 10 pick. He’s a physical marvel who showed in his brief college action that those physical gifts apply nicely to the football field. In theory, his medicals will clear up concern around his neck injury. If (and perhaps when) the Giants elect to trade Odell Beckham, they will quickly replace him with a receiver that can help out Eli Manning in his final years.”
Nick Klopsis of Newsday expects Metcalf to fall a bit farther—to the Cleveland Browns at No. 17. “Baker Mayfield showed great promise in his rookie season,” Klopsis said, “and with some more receiving help he could get even better in his second season. D.K. Metcalf declared for the draft despite missing nearly half of his redshirt sophomore season with a neck injury. He’s a bit raw but has excellent size (6’4″, 230 pounds) and athleticism.”
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com mocked Metcalf falling a bit farther still, but staying in the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens at No. 22. “The Ravens are remaking their WR corps with tough guys on the perimeter who boast a combination of size, speed, and playmaking ability,” he said. “Metcalf would be a natural WR1 in an offense that features a vertical passing game to complement a forceful rushing attack.”
Of the three spots, Baltimore’s the best from a fantasy perspective—especially in the short-term. Metcalf would have a clear path toward serving as Baltimore’s No. 1 receiver, even if his ceiling might be a bit capped by a run-heavy offense. The quarterback situation in Cleveland is better passing-wise, but Jarvis Landry would eat into Metcalf’s potential target-share more. It’s the great unknown with Metcalf, just as it is with this year’s other top receivers—situations we don’t yet know about will significantly impact their fantasy value.
What we do know is that Metcalf is one of a few wideouts vying to be drafted on Day 1 who has the potential to become a true “go-to” guy on the outside. A player with the skill-set to pile up receptions, chew up yardage and rack up touchdowns—all of which are of considerable interest to fantasy owners.
I can’t say definitively that Metcalf will be the first rookie receiver drafted in 2018. Depending on who lands where a player like Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry (we’ll get to him—don’t worry) might notch that honor.
But assuming that Mr. Muscles has a solid week in Indianapolis, he’s going to be a first-round pick both in April and in rookie drafts this summer—as well as an upside WR3 in redrafts who will (of course) get a nice bump up the wideout pecking order in dynasty startups.
Tell him I said nice things about him if you see him. I have a policy against making people that ripped angry at me.
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