D.K. Metcalf became a viral sensation early in the NFL Draft process as non-Ole Miss fans learned about the 6’3, 228 pound physical specimen that has become the most talked about wide receiver in the 2019 draft class.
Metcalf’s legend for those not well-versed in Ole Miss football began with a photo in a gym and grew further when he lit up the combine, running a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash, posting a 40.5 inch vertical, benched 225 pounds 27 times, and showed off an 11’2 broad jump.
The measurables (a favorite term for NFL Draft analysis) are all there for Metcalf, but the discussion about his physical abilities quickly turned into questions about why that didn’t always translate at the college level into production while in Oxford.
The talented receiver was third on Ole Miss in receiving yards at 569 and fourth in receptions with just 26, although his absurd 21.88 yards per reception was tops, unsurprisingly. Metcalf was often asked to take the top off the defense thanks to his ridiculous combination of size and speed, but his overall production lagged behind A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge, leading to questions about why such a spectacular athlete could post such pedestrian numbers at times at the college level.
Those questions won’t be able to be answered by Metcalf in earnest until he hits the field for someone this fall, but he’s willing to discuss them right now. Metcalf spoke with Uproxx Sports on Monday prior to the upcoming NFL Draft on behalf of Panini, where he was getting photos done for his Instant Card that will release online once he’s drafted. The potential first-round pick discussed the draft process, teams asking him about route-running, what he learned in Ole Miss’ uber-talented receiver room, and the NFL stars he looks to model his game after.
What’s this process been like the last few months for you in getting ready for the Draft, with meeting with teams and the Combine? What has the experience been like, and have there been any surprises in the process?
This experience has been great, cause I’ve never gotten to travel the U.S. like I’ve been doing. So I’m just taking it all in and enjoying every moment.
Your physical abilities have been what everyone talks about — the size, the athleticism, the strength, the pictures of you in the gym that have gone viral — but what have been the things teams have been asking you most about your on-field productivity and play?
It’s basically the routes we ran at Ole Miss. A lot of teams say we had a limited route tree, but our OC just used the players we had to the best of our abilities. So it’s basically been the routes.
You guys had a great wide receiver room at Ole Miss. What are the things you learned from those other guys — A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge — and how much did that competition in the receiver room push you to be better?
I mean just the competition and how we pushed each other in practice, wanting to see everybody do better. Whether it’s from blocking with A.J. to Lodge’s toe-tapping catches on the sideline. I mean, we all took something from each other and we all made each other better at practice, and even the young guys coming up, they watched us practice and we made sure we had to do it the right way.
What are the things you want teams to know about you? The things you want teams to know they’re getting if they draft D.K. Metcalf?
First off, I’m a team player, and I’m not a limited receiver just cause I didn’t run the full route tree at Ole Miss. I’m a receiver first and I can run every route you put up against me. I want to win first, team player, and then they’re going to get a complete receiver who can catch, run routes, and who’s gonna block.
People have put your Combine stats up against Julio Jones and other greats that have come into the league. Who are the guys you’ve looked up to through high school and college that you’ve tried to pull things from and add to your game?
I’ve pulled some of the things I’ve learned from Julio, Calvin Johnson — big receivers that can run routes, get in and out of breaks, and who also run fast. And they’re also successful at what they do. So, for me, it’s just trying to emulate what they do and try to incorporate their skills into my game.
What are you expecting out of draft night and what’s your plan to keep yourself calm on what can be a stressful, but exciting night?
Right. I know I’ve done everything I could just to put myself in the best position, so I’m just going to let God do it and do what he does best and I’m going to enjoy the time with my family.
You’re with Panini now getting a trading card of yourself done. What’s that been like and how cool is it to have a card of yourself coming out?
It’s real cool just seeing how everything works here and the type of people they are here. Everything that goes on here, it’s been a great experience. Meeting a bunch of people who come from different backgrounds, but they work as a team just to put a card together, which to me means a lot.