DK Metcalf made a lot of pre-draft noise with low body-fat percentages and a sublimely s****y 3-cone drill that made Taron Johnson’s combine gaffe look like a highlight. The Seattle Seahawks took a chance that maybe he wouldn’t slip every time he tried to make a cut and it seems like it’s been paying off. Let’s take a look.
What should immediately stick out to anyone watching DK Metcalf is his athleticism. By now we’ve all seen him hunting down Budda Baker after the interception in this game. When you have that kind of speed it makes it easier to chew up yardage when you need it. Credit to the play design here for giving the Arizona Cardinals something to think about with a second receiver crossing the middle, freezing the coverage.
The ball doesn’t come Metcalf’s way but if Russell Wilson had found him after the last cut this is a touchdown. Wilson is rolling to that side and throws the ball late enough so this was a possibility. To be fair though, Wilson was under pressure and Metcalf’s multiple moves on the route would be harder to process on the move like Wilson was. Of particular note is the ability to lean and bend, and change direction. Metcalf is 6’4” and around 230 lbs. He’s nearly a tight end.
Speaking of tight end, Metcalf is asked to block quite a bit and overall does a good job. His left leg is highlighted because it shows him committing to the step inside to initiate the block. Knowing the run is going up the middle, Metcalf cuts off his opponent’s angle immediately. This was pretty consistent too. It’s a darn good thing he’s so big too because he’s losing the leverage game. This play is a mixed bag for Metcalf and highlights what I’d consider to be a typical result. Mostly matched against defensive backs, his blocking is effective as a result of the size mismatch.
Again, Metcalf is 230 lbs. And this is not the best example of him putting on the brakes and turning back to a pass. When Metcalf and Wilson have this synced up it’s incredibly dangerous. That brings me to another point though. This pass is an interception because they’re not synced up. That reminds me...
Metcalf hovers around a 60% catch rate, currently sitting at 61% for the year. I personally only use this metric as an overall measure of QB/WR chemistry as there are too many variables that go into explaining how a pairing got to their current rate. Is a bad rating a case of drops? Inaccurate QB? You can’t tell by the number alone. What you can do though is identify what QB/WR combo might be having a problem, which then prompts you to dig deeper.
With Wilson throwing the ball, the Seahawks’ skill players average about 75% catch rate. Not only is Metcalf’s number out of whack with his QB’s normal, it’s the worst among Seahawks’ players this year. For comparison with the Bills we’re used to seeing his catch rate is 4% worse than Gabriel Davis’s.
The Seahawks love throwing to Metcalf when they’re in situations like this. The play above goes a lot different than this one for several reasons but a main takeaway is that the San Francisco 49ers kept the ball in front of them rather than letting him take it sideways. Play design is a major factor in that too on both sides of the ball.
Here’s another look at what can happen if he can get going full speed. This did result in a touchdown.
I couldn’t stop laughing at this play so here it is for you to enjoy too. Before I begin on this one I need to say I have literally nothing I want to show you about DK Metcalf on this play. He didn’t really do anything good or bad. So why show it?
First, I find it funny that 230 lbs of Metcalf and 197 lbs of Freddie Swain both end up blocking K’Waun Williams. Williams is 5’9” and weighs 185 lbs. Obviously Williams won’t be making the tackle on this play. It gets better though because as soon as it looks like Williams is in serious trouble he shows us how important leverage, technique, and physics are.
Let’s get back to talking Metcalf. I noted earlier that catch rate, to me, is a metric that tells you the overall chemistry and that’s it. Think of it like a math test. Catch rate is like having the answer on the page but you didn’t show your work. Also noted above I hinted that perhaps Wilson and Metcalf aren’t always on the same page. And I think that’s a part of it.
Here’s another part of it on this play. I highlight the feet on this one because Metcalf’s step is so much longer than his opponent’s. His size means larger body motions are necessary like this big step that can help telegraph his next move. These can also slow him down at times. Finally, while he’s asked to run a fair amount of different routes I wouldn’t say he’s mastered all of them.
DK Metcalf is an intriguing player because there are truly two sides of the coin to look at with him. He’s incredibly dangerous when the ball is in his hands. It’s nearly a toss up though on whether the ball ends up in his hands or falls to the turf. Metcalf is an unpolished product who could hurt you at any time.