Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf was already considered a first-round pick before he arrived in Indianapolis. Many pundits had already come to the conclusion that Metcalf would be the first receiver off the board in April's draft.
And then he measured in at 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds at the NFL Combine. And then, at that height and weight no less, ran a blazing 4.33 40-yard dash. Metcalf followed with a 134-inch broad jump, a 40.5-inch vertical and 27 reps on the bench press. Suffice to say, Twitter was swooning over Ole Miss' athletic anomaly. Some went as far as saying Metcalf was now worthy of a top-five pick, maybe even as high as San Francisco's No. 2 selection.
That's because those are elite, Julio Jones-esque measurables.
|Combine Comparison||Julio Jones||D.K. Metcalf|
|40 time||4.39 seconds||4.33 seconds|
But as the Athletic's Dane Brugler pointed out, it was really feast or famine for Metcalf. A 7.38-second three-cone drill and a 4.5-second 20-yard shuttle rank below average among wide receivers. The entire equation will make Metcalf one of the more polarizing names in the first round.
"You have to know what you're getting with D.K. I think it's very obvious what he does best – he runs the nine route and goes up and makes plays on the ball vertically as well as anyone in this class," ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said via conference call on Wednesday. "When you're 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, there is going to be a little bit of tightness."
McShay's conference call coincided with the release of his third mock draft. He currently has the 49ers taking Nick Bosa with the second pick and Metcalf going to the Buffalo Bills at No. 9. So what does McShay think of the talk about Metcalf potentially landing in the top five?
"That's a little rich for my blood, to be honest," McShay said. "I put him as high as I wanted to, maybe a little higher than I anticipated."
It all depends what side of the fence you're on and how much faith you have in Metcalf developing a complete route tree. McShay anticipates that whichever team drafts the receiver will spend extensive time working on Metcalf's lateral quickness and flexibility.
"When you look at those numbers, it's easy to get caught up in them," McShay said. "But I do think that aspect of his game will have to improve in order for him to become a more complete receiver in the NFL.
"7.38 is not a great time in the three-cone and 4.50 is a concerning time in the short shuttle. Those are issues. I think it's been glossed over."
Metcalf posted 26 receptions for 569 yards and five touchdowns in 2018 while being limited to just seven games due to injury. The numbers aren't gaudy, but McShay did note the receiver's ability to get downfield, compete for the ball, track the deep ball and get off press coverage.
There's still sure to be (at least) one team that falls in love with Metcalf's physique, athleticism and projection of what he could become. Will that happen in the top five? Who knows.
"He's got all that stuff, now you have to go develop the other parts," McShay said. "He's got to continue to develop as a short and intermediate route runner in order to get the most out of his potential."