NAME: D.K. Metcalf
SCHOOL: Ole Miss
POSITION: Wide Receiver
CLASS: RS Sophomore
JERSEY: No. 14
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 225 lbs
Routes – Wins routes early with dynamic hand and footwork in his release. Knows how to work his route stem to manipulate the corner, establish leverage and sell his breaks. Hasn’t be tasked with running an overly expansive route tree but the traits are present to be an outstanding route-runner and separator in the NFL. Rare acceleration for his size and springs explosively out of his breaks. Understands where zone coverage is soft and adjusts. Alters his tempo effectively.
Hands – Illustrates strong mitts to snatch the ball and tuck it but he isn’t immune to drops. Can extend for the football and securely pluck it away from his frame but there is more consistency needed as a finisher. Showcases the ability to make circus catches in traffic.
Ball Skills – Tracks the football well and his catch radius is massive. Has the ability to win in contested situations and above-the-rim but still needs consistency. Is guilty of mistiming some of his jumps and failing to make necessary late adjustments to off-target throws.
YAC Ability – Rare burst and acceleration for his size to create for himself post-catch. Willing to challenge tacklers with physicality and showcases a strong stiff arm with his off-hand. Is competitive and decisive as a ball carrier. Will force defensive backs to make business decisions.
Release – Exceptionally nuanced with his technique to get off the line of scrimmage and beat press coverage. Illustrates a variety of handwork and footwork to get into his route stem and manipulate coverage. Dominates in the contact window and often puts corners in a blender. Obvious strength of this game.
Play Speed – Has explosive speed that puts considerable stress on opponents to turn and run with him vertically. Capable of dictating corners with his ability to drive his release and in and out of his breaks. A true three level threat on account of his speed and athleticism.
Blocking – Blocks like his frame suggests his should. Does well to extend his arms and land his hands to secure blocks on the perimeter. Reliable option as a play side blocker. Effort is generally consistently solid.
Play Strength – Dominant power in the contact window and the catch point. Isn’t easily bumped and is unhindered by physicality. Physical with the ball in his hands as a runner and when blocking. Can stand to be more imposting at times at the catch point.
Versatility – Projects as an X-receiver and can win at every level of the field. Demands targets where he can create after the catch and is capable of taking the top off the defense. Has limited experience in the slot. Reliable blocking ability makes him an asset out of bunch sets and boundary runs to his side.
BEST TRAIT – Release
WORST TRAIT – Catch Point Consistency
RED FLAGS – 2018 season-ending neck injury
DK Metcalf brings a rare physical skill set and has showcased dynamic playmaking skills in the SEC although more experience would be preferred. There is consistency needed as a finisher but it’s a minor tradeoff for the upside he presents in the passing game. His traits are worthy of a high selection despite some rawness to his game. Metcalf is a universal scheme fit that has immense playmaking ability to every level of the field. By year three, Metcalf has the upside to become one of the premiere receivers in the NFL.
Route Running –Shows very good footwork at the line of scrimmage to defeat press coverage and create false steps. Does well to bend back across the face of leveraged defenders on vertical stems. Explosive through breaks and create separation.
Hands –Does not always address the ball with proper hand alignment and needs better consistency extending to reach for the ball and optimize catch radius, especially when facing his passer. Strength through the hands is present to sustain grip through contact.
Contested Catch Ability –Size and strength are difficult to account for, especially in high point situations where he can elevate and greet the apex of the football (Kentucky 2017). Has body control to adjust late and win positioning for the football.
Run After Catch Ability –Is a monster in the open field, provides defenders with issues on account of speed, strength, balance and quickness. Opens his strides and tears up open turf. Shows good strength and effective free arm to force a missed wrap up
Football IQ –Still has room to grow as a rSoph, especially as it relates to body positioning along the sideline and addressing the football in high traffic situations. Can drift too far into the boundary and cut down on a throwing window. Runs diverse routes. Knows how to beat press.
Vertical Receiving –Has tremendous second gear and pulls away from defenders attempting to play turn and run coverage with consistency. Ability to carry speed while tracking the ball over his shoulder is quite strong and allows for optimum RAC.
Change of Direction Skills –Lateral quickness and explosiveness out of breaks are hallmarks of his game. Will snap hard off of stem and carries speed, creating a headache for defenders to stay attached with playing overhead. Loose hips provide ample swing back to his passer despite high speed.
Speed –Play speed is tremendous, especially when accounting for size. Has speed to burn in vertical situations and has blown past good cornerbacks at the line. Ability to sell vertical stems and explosiveness vs. off coverage provides extra space on breaks.
Competitive Toughness –Physical strength is apparent at the catch point and in the open field. Presses hard off of the LOS and doesn’t take reps off to tip defenders of a run. Will work hard to mirror and stay in front of a defender. Doesn’t let target volume dissuade effort.
Blocking Ability –Length and movement skills pair wonderfully with his strength and should have no problem physically walling off defenders at the next level. Illustrates a strong sense of his wingspan and how to utilize it to re-route defensive backs.
BEST TRAIT – Explosiveness
WORST TRAIT – Hands
BEST FILM – Texas Tech (2018)
WORST FILM – Alabama (2017)
RED FLAGS – 2018 Neck INJ
D.K. Metcalf enters the 2019 NFL Draft as a rare prospect, his blend of physicality and explosiveness have the ability to develop into a game-changing WR. Metcalf projects favorably to just about any system, he’s fluid enough to run hard angled routes and big enough to win in the red zone. Metcalf offers vertical explosiveness as well. An early starter just scratching the surface of how good he can really be.
Separation Quickness – Similar to teammate DaMarkus Lodge, the vast majority of his routes are run on a vertical plane, which limits the evaluation in this area somewhat. Shows excellent hip snap and burst when he does have an in-breaking route, and certainly has the raw traits to develop in this area. Sometimes the quickness is evident, but without the separation due to a lack of attention to detail. Loose hips and quick-twitch muscles project very favorably in this area.
Ball Skills – Has shown the ability to adjust to underthrown balls and elevate way above the rim for tough grabs. Hands are a bit suspect, will suffer some drops at times. Needs to do a better job at little things like timing his jumps better and securing the football on the way down to avoid late breakups. High-point ability combining length and hops is rare.
Speed/Burst – Special burst and long speed for a receiver his size. Able to stack defensive backs in a flash, creating early vertical separation off the line of scrimmage. Eats up ground with eye-popping long strides. Second gear to detach when the ball is in the air was on display all season until his injury, consistently accelerated away from corners in almost every game.
Route-Running – Let’s talk about what is his fault: Metcalf needs to show better attention to detail in his patterns at times, breaking his routes off more exactly, showing a better awareness of the sideline and being more efficient with his footwork. Outside of his control however, is an Ole Miss offense that asked him to predominantly run hitches, curls, comebacks and nine routes, operating only on a vertical plane that made things very simple for defensive backs who had done their tape study. How Metcalf managed his production is a testament to his other-worldly talent in a scheme that didn’t make things easy on him.
Contested Catch – Again, ball security and jump timing are his biggest issues as a contested catch receiver. His high-point ability is elite, and he is rarely bothered by contact. Knows how to use his frame to box out and can simply outreach most defensive backs. Contested grab for game-winning touchdown vs Kentucky in 2017 was incredible. Has had several of those. Needs to be more consistently dominant in this area however. Watch the late push-offs too.
YAC – Not quite as savvy as teammate A.J. Brown in the open field, but raw ability is more impressive. Strength to run through arm tackles, burst to destroy pursuit angles, long speed to run away from everybody for house calls. Consistently physical and competitive post-catch, works hard to maximize every touch.
Releases – Majority of the time, runs through press coverage as if it doesn’t exist. Violent and nuanced with his hand usage at the line of scrimmage, swatting away punches and knocking defensive backs off balance early in the rep. Ability to vary releases and footwork at the line of scrimmage is top-notch, as are natural tools to separate. As the route tree diversifies, this area of his game will become even more important. Only concern is that his releases can be more efficient at times, less wasted steps.
Blocking – Could stand to be less of a spectator at times and get more involved as a blocker, but when he is engaged, his performance is typically impressive. Obviously has the size and physicality to be a difference-maker in this area.
Competitive Toughness – Big receiver who plays like it. Won’t back down from anyone physically and looks for opportunities to remind cornerbacks he’s not your normal receiver.
Athleticism/Size – If he tests as well as I expect he will, we could be talking about one of the better size/speed freaks at the position in quite some time. Given his rare size, length and body makeup, can’t imagine wanting to see anything more impressive from him athletically than what is already evident on tape.
BEST TRAIT – Athleticism/Size
WORST TRAIT – Underdeveloped route tree
RED FLAGS – Neck injury sidelined him for final five games of the season and required surgery.
Receivers with Metcalf’s raw talents don’t come around very often, as his size, speed, quickness, high-point ability and vertical prowess make him a truly special prospect. He is absolutely not fully developed yet, so his landing spot will be key to reaching his lofty peak in the NFL. Ole Miss’ offense did him no favors by limiting him to a predictable linear plane as a receiver, so a diverse approach in the NFL could unlock even more potential.
Metcalf has to get better at the little things like where he breaks his routes, being more efficient with his footwork and consistently finishing in the air, but he has no true weaknesses. His movement skills are top-notch, he’s explosive and physical after the catch and he can run by defensive backs as easily as he can outwork them at the catch point. There is some risk involved for sure, but the payoff with Metcalf is well worth it. He should be one of the top receivers off the board in April, provided his neck injury clears medical evaluations at the Combine.
Route Running – Metcalf aligned almost exclusively on the outside of the offensive formation to the left-hand side. Playing out there in the SEC, he faced plenty of press or bump coverages. However, Metcalf had a ton of success with his press coverage releases. With footwork that can be a blur for his size, he would re-set the line of scrimmage and discard the jam with violent hands. Metcalf takes full advantage of his strength and length combination while facing press. With an arsenal of hand swipes and proper anticipation, he dominates the contact window. Extremely physical route runner at the top of his stems when he has to be, clearing space with violence. Consistently worked downhill towards the quarterback when necessary.
Metcalf showed acceleration after beating press coverage or on vertical cuts. Mostly operating on the vertical plane, he understands how to threaten side to side before continuing down the field. Makes a conscious effort to stack defensive backs right after his route breaks.
Metcalf has technique issues that limit his speed on curl and comeback breaks. He’ll rarely take the least amount of steps necessarily, needing to pause at the top of his route for a moment. Metcalf was rarely asked to run in-breaking routes in the Rebels offense, but there are enough examples on his film to suggest moderate success in that area moving forward.
Athleticism / Speed – Metcalf is an athletic specimen that doesn’t come around in the NFL Draft very often. He’s broadly built, with long, massive and chiseled arms. Few, if any players in the NFL can match his physique. Strength is evenly distributed throughout his body, and it regularly shows up on film. Metcalf’s long speed can be too fast for some cornerbacks to handle, as his stride length eats up grass in an instant.
There can be improvements in his change of direction and short-area quickness, but that is less of a concern for a player with Metcalf’s body type and play style.
Hands / Ball Skills – Through a seven game scouting sample, Metcalf has only two true drops. When he’s stationary or coming back towards the ball, he’s always making an effort to catch the ball away from his body. High point potential is massive because of his ability to extend over his head and the strength in his hands. Metcalf is already at Deandre Hopkins-level at using his hands to create late separation at the catch point. Consistent strong tucks into his body to finish possession style plays. Beautifully tracks the football and shows late hands, adjusting to any ball placement.
Metcalf can allow the football to come into his body when working down the field, but generally only relies on this when he has space.
Body Control – Metcalf’s body control is sublime, as he can rise off of any platform. Consistently positions his body where he is shielding the defensive back from the catch point. 50/50 balls are closer to 80/20 with Metcalf. Will adjust and pick the ball up right off the turf well for a larger player. Works the boundary well, aware of the sideline and movements to remain inbounds.
Ball Carrier – Metcalf is an absolute horse in the open field. Defenders view tackling Metcalf as a chore, and he effortlessly breaks tackles below his knees. Forces his way through tackles up around his chest, especially when he’s built up speed. Contact balance is evident, and the strength he unleashes as a ball carrier is mean.
Metcalf will never be a shifty or elusive athlete in space, and is easier for defenders to take down when they don’t afford him space to get his massive frame up to full speed.
Stalk Blocking – Metcalf is generally a plus blocker, with the potential to be a dominant one because of his frame. Positive effort on the majority of plays. Metcalf has shown a strong re-coil and drive, and awareness to re-engage with defenders when they’re able to shake loose. Strong mitts when he’s able to get defensive backs in his grasp.
The next step will be Metcalf being a more aggressive initiator of blocks, as he can get too patient and pause rather than working to collapse their space.
Versatility – Metcalf rarely aligned in a different position for Ole Miss other than the outside receiver on the left. With minimal reps in the slot or on the right side, there will be a learning curve for those positions. Additionally, his route tree was limited because of the offensive scheme. Running very few in-breaking routes or crossers, versatility is a major concern of Metcalf’s.
BEST TRAIT – Athleticism
WORST TRAIT – Versatility
RED FLAGS – Neck injury ended 2018 season
Metcalf physical gifts are unquestioned, as few human beings have his combination of size, strength and athleticism. For this reason, he has a truly elite ceiling. In a lot of phases of the game, he takes advantage of his physical traits. Whether releasing against press coverage, separating using physicality or his contact balance as a route runner, Metcalf uses his physical tools on a play to play basis.
There will likely be a transition period for Metcalf, as he grows accustomed to multiple alignments and finishes off his route tree. The traits he shows on film gives the indication that this transition period won’t hold back Metcalf for very long. He’s got the flexibility to perform more than what he was asked to do at Ole Miss.
Early in his career, he will immediately be a red zone threat and accuracy fixer with his hands and ball skills. Down the line, his ceiling is that of the premiere wide receiver in the National Football League.