(percentile rank among all WRs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.33 seconds (95th)
Vertical: 40.5” (93rd)
Broad: 134” (97th)
3-cone: 7.38 seconds (2nd)
20-yard shuttle: 4.50 seconds (3rd)
We didn’t get to see a whole lot of Metcalf at Ole Miss — 21 games, to be exact.
He arrived on campus as a 4-star recruit and a top-20 WR prospect in the class. Metcalf scored in both of the first 2 games of his freshman season but broke his foot in the 2nd and missed the final 10 contests.
He returned to play in all 12 games in 2017, finishing 4th on the Rebels in catches and 3rd in receiving yards behind fellow 2019 WR prospects A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge. Metcalf’s 7 scores tied Lodge for 2nd on the team behind Brown’s 11.
Metcalf lasted 7 games this past year before a season-ending neck injury that required surgery. (He later revealed that it was a fracture of his C-3 vertebrae.) He flashed loads of big-play ability before going down, averaging a big 21.9 yards per catch and scoring on 5 of his 26 grabs.
Metcalf’s market-share numbers are underwhelming, though — even if we omit the 5 games he missed. He accounted for 16.6% of the receptions, 23.0% of the receiving yards and 29.4% of the TDs in those 7 outings. Those marks rank 24th, 22nd and 16th among 25 of this year’s top WR prospects.
Metcalf was at least efficient, hauling in 63.4% of his targets and averaging 13.9 yards per target. That easily bested Brown’s 11.2 and Lodge’s 8.0.
Courtesy of @WhatsOnDraftNFL
Games watched - Kentucky (2017), Texas Tech, Alabama, LSU, Louisiana Monroe
Metcalf does his best work downfield. He’s crafty and explosive off the line of scrimmage to create instant separation, especially against press coverage. And if he gets a step on his defender, he’s gone.
Metcalf also shows well on intermediate in-breaking routes like slants and crosses, again showing the ability to win off the snap and leave his defender chasing. He doesn’t get the ball here, but check out the separation he creates:
Metcalf wasn’t asked to run a wide variety of routes for the Rebels but displays the movement skills to develop into a plus route-runner.
We didn’t get to see Metcalf in many contested situations, but he’s certainly capable of winning jump balls.
Although Metcalf didn’t do much a ton of damage after the catch in the 5 games I watched, he does flash the wiggle and explosion to be an asset in that area.
Metcalf did struggle against LSU and CB Greedy Williams. He was targeted 9 times in Williams’ coverage, coming down with just 3 catches for 37 yards and dropping 2 balls. Williams is expected to be a top-20 pick this spring, though, so let’s not count it as a major knock against Metcalf.
Metcalf is a classic film/measurables vs. production debate.
He tested as an elite athlete, registering a SPARQ score in the 98th percentile. And that was despite bottom-barrel marks in the agility drills (3-cone and short shuttle). Those results are certainly worth keeping in mind, but he never appeared stiff to me on tape. In fact, Metcalf boasts some of the most impressive tape in this year’s WR class, flashing a dominant combination of size, speed and ball skills.
BUT — his college numbers are puzzling, bordering on worrisome. He was efficient but didn’t post the raw production or market-share numbers we usually see from guys who become big-time contributors at the next level. Metcalf also comes with durability concerns after missing 15 games over 3 college seasons.
Metcalf carries a super wide range of outcomes. His rare combination of size and athleticism gives him the highest ceiling in this year’s WR class. He also has age on his side, having just turned 21 in December. That points to further upside from what we’ve seen so far.
There’s undoubtedly bust potential here, though. Can Metcalf stay healthy? And if he’s such a freak, why didn’t he dominate in college?
We’ll see where Metcalf lands this spring. But he’s fully expected to be a 1st-round pick — maybe even top 10 — which will give him every opportunity to emerge as his team’s lead dog in the passing game.