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When Mississippi WR DK Metcalf announced he would be entering the 2019 NFL Draft, a collective sigh of relief could be heard throughout the Draft community. Why? Because Metcalf’s season was abruptly cut short due to a neck injury, an injury that we didn’t hear much about but knew required surgery.  But here we are. Metcalf is officially “in” for 2019, which suggests his ailing neck is nothing serious and shouldn’t be a long term barrier to his NFL career. With this revelation, Metcalf swiftly reclaims his title as 2019 WR1: he’s a physical specimen who has ever physical tool needed to be a star.

And in this year’s Draft class, that ceiling could easily propel him into the top-1o overall selections. But what about the landscape immediately behind Metcalf? Who are the contenders who could push him with a strong off-season circuit? And what calling card can they use to lay a claim to the top spot?

Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

When I conduct my December update on the wide receiver group, you can bet Brown is going to be higher up on the list. I had the privilege of seeing Hollywood up close and in person last weekend vs. West Virginia.

Breaking news: he’s fast. We saw what kind of stock WR John Ross was able to build for himself based on elite speed. And there’s no question in my mind that Brown is better than John Ross as a football player. So…can that lead to a sky-high selection? It’s possible, particularly for teams looking to stretch the field with a big armed quarterback. A team like Buffalo, should they win another game and slot themselves into the late portion of the top-10, is a team who could make some sense.

N’Keal Harry, Arizona State

I had the chance to see Brown last weekend and I also had the chance to see Harry in person…last year. He walked by me on the field for pre-game warm-ups and I thought he was a lean EDGE or OLB…until I confirmed the number.

Harry’s physique is, much like Metcalf’s, prototypical for playing receiver on the boundary. How can Harry make headway against Metcalf? I think Harry is a little better in contested catch situations, which could be a swing trait for teams who are looking to boost their red zone passing.

Harry isn’t as explosive as Metcalf but he’s very smooth with the ball in his hands and is capable of creating some yardage after the catch, so it’s not as though drafting Harry would completely forsake explosive plays and run after the catch.

Kelvin Harmon, NC State

Remember when the Miami Dolphins drafted Devante Parker in the top-15 overall? Ignore the fact that it was a pick that didn’t work out, that’s the template for Harmon to make leap to WR1. It would require some specific testing. Parker ran 4.45 in the 40 and jumped 36.5″.

If Harmon hits those numbers, I think he’s going to move the needle and improve his perception…given he’s generally an afterthought in the conversation for top WR prospects at this current point in time.

But watching Harmon on film and he’s got strong ball skills and attacks defenses on all three levels of the field. He’s a pretty straight-forward evaluation: he’s a prototypical X-receiver with some added vertical elements to his skill-set. Harmon has the tape to make a claim as 2019 WR1 but he’ll need the testing to push for the top slot.