INDIANAPOLIS – Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden sums up what just about everyone thinks when they see the physique of D.K. Metcalf.
“He’s the biggest wideout I’ve ever seen,” Gruden said at the NFL scouting combine. “Who’s gonna tackle him? ... We had pictures of him with his shirt off, it made me want to get into the weight room last night.”
Metcalf is not the biggest receiver ever. But he could grace the cover of any muscle magazine on the newsstand, and he’s the top-rated wide receiver in the 2019 draft class.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper projected the Bills would take Metcalf at No. 9 overall in his latest mock draft. While conventional wisdom suggests the Bills are more likely to draft the best big man available (offensive tackle or edge rusher), there’s no denying the Bills need an elite receiver.
Almost everything about Metcalf screams elite. The University of Mississippi star is 6-foot-3, 228 pounds. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 27 times, tying a combine record for wide receivers. He posted a time of 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash Saturday, the fastest time by any player 225 pounds or more since the NFL officially started tracking Combine data in 2003.
And his ripped upper body set off a social media storm earlier this month when fellow Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown posted a photo of himself and Metcalf posing in a weight room. Metcalf said Friday that he has 1.9 percent body fat and also assured any skeptics that the image was not Photoshopped.
“I met with the Seahawks last night, and Pete Carroll was surprised,” Metcalf said Friday. “Coach Jon Gruden was surprised. Coach (Jay) Gruden for the Redskins was surprised. So every team room I walk into, they’re always like, ‘Wow, you are really that big.’”
Metcalf’s highlight tape is a dazzling display of leaping graps, breakaway touchdowns and contested catches over helpless smaller defenders.
He does not have huge career numbers. Metcalf’s 2018 season was limited to seven games due to a neck injury. He caught 26 passes for a 21.9-yard average. He played a full season as a sophomore in 2017, catching 39 passes for a 16.6-yard average. In 2016, he missed 10 games due to a broken foot. He has 67 career catches.
This about to bigger than Odell and Jarvis Landry when they entered the draft . Two potential 1st round draft picks from the same school. @nfl I hope you’re ready . @olemissfb @exossports pic.twitter.com/UBEJDjZBNy
— AJ Brown (@Brown1arthur) February 21, 2019
“D.K. Metcalf has similar build, play style as Josh Gordon coming out of college,” said NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, referring to the 6-3, 225-pound former Cleveland Browns star. “He doesn’t run a wide variety of routes and he’ll require some time to develop, but the upside is huge.”
“He’s got tremendous talent, he flashes that big-time ability,” Kiper said. “We use the word upside. He’s got as much upside as anybody.”
“This guy is really put together, but he shows good elusiveness, good change of direction and I think he is healthy,” Gruden said. “He has been cleared medically, which is the No. 1 thing we wanted to find out.”
He also does not lack confidence, saying there are no 50-50 balls thrown to him.
"Ninety-nine-one balls I call them," he said. "The 1 percent I'm not coming down with it, it may be a bad ball by the quarterback."
Metcalf also has elite bloodlines.
His father, Terrence, was a third-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2002. Terrence Metcalf, 6-foot-4 and 310, played 78 games over seven NFL seasons. D.K. celebrated with his father in the Bears’ locker room after the 2007 NFC Championship Game. Terry Metcalf, a Pro Bowler for the Cardinals in the 1970s, and Eric Metcalf, a Pro Bowler for the Browns in the 1990s, are cousins of D.K.
Terrence Metcalf coached on his son’s high school team at Oxford, Miss., where D.K. was a four-star recruit and ranked as one of the top 20 wide receivers in the Class of 2016.
“Everybody looks up to their dad when they're in their lives, so I’m just blessed to have a person that actually did everything that I'm going to now,” D.K. Metcalf said. “So it's like having a cheat sheet to life. Just listen to everything he's taught me. He's still talking to me now.”
An important lesson his father taught him?
“Your hard work is always going to get noticed somewhere,” Metcalf said. “If it’s not getting noticed early, somebody’s going to notice along the line.”
Some have questioned whether Metcalf is too bulked up. Former NFL first-round pick David Boston is a cautionary tale for receivers who go overboard on weight training. Boston came out of college at 215, bulked up to 238 and then weighed 260 before his career flamed out.
Metcalf scoffs at those who question his physique.
“They haven't met me yet,” he said. “They haven't seen 'too big' in seeing what I can do on the field in the 40 or bench 27 reps. ... We stretch after every workout. My flexibility isn't a problem.”
Ole Miss offensive tackle Greg Little has advice for defenders who will have to tangle with Metcalf:
“Run, get out of the way,” Little said. “He’s a great guy, a hard worker, physical. I feel bad for DBs that gotta go against him on blocking plays.”