As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level.
Which Ole Miss receiver is the better prospect between A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf?
The question being asked is which of them is the better prospect between the two, not necessarily who will hear their name called first on draft day. After a jaw-dropping performance at the combine in which Metcalf blew everyone away with his incredible test results, it is widely believed that he cemented his status as the top receiver in this not so top-heavy draft class at the position.
He put up 27 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, jumped a 40.5 inch vertical, leaped 134 inches in the broad jump and clocked in a blazing 40-yard dash time of 4.33 seconds.
However, freakish physique, measurables and testing aside, the 6”3” and the 228-pound physical specimen wasn’t even the most productive wide receiver for the Rebels last season. That designation belongs to his teammate A.J. Brown, who more than doubled Metcalf’s production in their final college season.
His combine numbers weren’t anything to scoff out as he put up a respectable 19 reps on the bench, had a vertical of 36.5 inches, leaped a broad jump of 120 inches and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds.
Brown led the team in receiving yards with 1,320, hauled in 59 more passes than D.K. with a team-leading 85 receptions and caught one more touchdown (6) than his well-chiseled compatriot. Some cite the fact that Metcalf only played in seven games due to a neck injury as the reason for the disparity in production but at the time that he suffered the season-ending injury Brown was already outpacing him by 15 catches and 160 yards.
There’s no telling whether that would have or could have been the case, but history suggests Metcalf wasn’t going to top or even match Brown’s numbers because he has never cracked the 1,000-yard threshold in his three years with the program. In his first full season with the Rebels in 2017 he caught just 39 receptions for 646 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns.
Those numbers don’t reflect a resume of a No.1 or even No.2 receiver coming out of college, so why is he being so highly touted above his more productive teammate and the many other receivers that will be selected long after him one might ask.
The answer is rather simple really and that is because of his immense POTENTIAL. Metcalf is a uniquely gifted athlete blessed with the ideal measurables, freakish athletic ability and comes from a legacy of former NFL standouts.
His father Terrance played seven seasons as an offensive lineman, his uncle Eric made three Pro Bowls as a returner and his grandfather Terry was a three-time Pro Bowl running back so he has Pro Bowl pedigree pumping through his veins.
Some argue that while D.K. didn’t have the same gaudy numbers in terms of statistical production as Brown, he showed plenty of glimpses of his generational playmaking ability to warrant such lofty adoration. Even with his large size and muscular frame, his nearly 22 yards per reception last season is enough to make up for the lack of overall eye-popping numbers in some pundits’ minds.
When deliberating who the better prospect is a common question that will be debated in draft war rooms across the league will be on what an organization values more in a player, potential or proven production.
The quandary of valuing Metcalf over Brown or Brown over Metcalf essentially comes down to organizational preference. Select the guy who has proven he can get the job done play in and play out and who stays healthy or roll the dice and hope that the high ceiling prospect can develop into a monster at the next level that his body and athleticism, more so than his career stats, would lead one to believe.