Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports


49ers Should Just Say No to D.K. Metcalf at No. 2

Levin T. Black
Mar 3, 2019 at 12:35 PM


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On Saturday the NFL Scouting Combine saw a phenomenon born. Wide receiver prospect D.K. Metcalf soared into the national spotlight. Following a jaw dropping performance in the 40-yard dash, the 6-foot-3-inch, 228 pound prospect out of the University of Mississippi was the No. 1 trending topic in the United States on Twitter for three straight hours and remained in the top 5 for an additional two hours.

A photo of Metcalf went viral prior to the Combine. He looked more like a professional body builder than a football player at a skill position. That is at least part of the reason Metcalf became a phenomenon following his 4.33 second 40-yard dash on Saturday.

His time is tied for the third fastest at this year's Combine and the fastest of any prospect weighing at least 225 pounds in Combine history according to the NFL Network. It's faster than Calvin Johnson and faster than Julio Jones.

The impressive Combine performance wasn't just about the 40-yard dash. Metcalf tied for the most bench press reps among receivers with 27, posted a 40.5 inch vertical jump and an 11-foot-2-inch broad jump.

All of that was remarkable. So remarkable it caused many to wonder if Metcalf could be a top 5 pick in the NFL Draft next month. 49ers fans, and even some media members, wondered if he may get consideration at No. 2. The quick answer is ... absolutely not.

No, his Combine results didn't suddenly jump him from a back half 1st round, early 2nd round prospect to the No. 2 overall pick. While Metcalf ran faster than expected, it wasn't a surprise that he was fast. That was never the question mark on him. Metcalf's Combine results will be lauded by many but those who get past the fluff know he actually did nothing to squash his red flags.

Metcalf has great straight line speed. His cuts and ability to quickly change direction are questionable to say the least. Metcalf didn't run a very diverse route tree at Ole Miss leaving many to wonder if he was capable. Speed and power are great but route running and footwork are the key to separation in the NFL.

In the NFL, defensive players are fast too and coaches know how to scheme for guys who are just fast. It's why Darrius Heyward-Bey never amounted to much in the NFL. Metcalf is more developed and more of an athletic freak than Heyward-Bey. I am not comparing the two. Heyward-Bey, is however, the cautionary tale for a prospect like Metcalf. He's got to become a better and more disciplined route runner to be worthy of a top pick. That's the consensus among draft evaluators.

Getting back to Metcalf's Combine results, two drills will likely hold his stock back a good bit. In the drills that he had to change direction, Metcalf didn't just perform worse, he performed terribly.

In the 20-yard shuttle Metcalf turned in a time of 4.5 seconds. That was the fourth worst time of the 33 wide receivers who participated and a very far cry from the 4.03 second time that led the group. Furthermore, 23 out of 33 were under 4.3 seconds and fellow potential 1st round draftee Deebo Samuel put up a time of 4.14 seconds.

In the 3 cone drill, Metcalf was again among the worst. His time of 7.38 seconds was the third slowest among the 29 participants. Samuel obliterated Metcalf's time with a 7.03-second time.

Skill Test D.K. Metcalf - 2019 Julio Jones - 2011
Height, weight 6-3, 228 lbs 6-3, 220 lbs
Arms 34.875 inches 33.75 inches
Hands 9.875 inches 9.75 inches
Bench press 27 17
40-yard dash 4.33 seconds 4.34 seconds
Vertical 40.5 inches 38.5 inches
Broad jump 134 inches 135 inches
20-yard shuttle 4.50 seconds 4.25 seconds
3 cone 7.38 seconds 6.66 seconds

While Metcalf is likely to climb some in post-Combine mock drafts, he'd have to skyrocket to be a realistic pick for the 49ers at No. 2. In pre-Combine mock drafts from NFL Network, ESPN, Pro Football Focus, CBS and The Draft Network, Metcalf went as high as No. 9 and as low as not in the 1st round at all. In the nine mock drafts I looked at, Metcalf's average draft position was 21.5. That's a far cry from where the 49ers pick.

Could Metcalf be a top 10 pick? Sure. It only takes one team. The 49ers should just say no though. Head coach Kyle Shanahan loves speed but he also loves disciplined route running (see Dante Pettis). With so many defensive lineman expected to go early, taking one of the top wide receiver prospects that is bound to fall to the 2nd round should be the 49ers strategy.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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