The Buffalo Bills need to get themselves a premier wide receiver and D.K. Metcalf fits the bill.
The Buffalo Bills have been searching for a premier wide receiver for a few years now, failing in both the draft and free agency. Zay Jones and a multitude of late round WR picks have not solidified the unit via the draft. Free agent signings Terrelle Pryor and Kelvin Benjamin fared even worse as both have since been cut. It is time to finally get it right, and select D.K. Metcalf with the ninth pick in the 2019 National Football League draft.
D.K. Metcalf’s game
“Focus on what a player can do, not what he can’t do.”
This philosophy is common among people in the talent evaluation business, and Metcalf makes it extremely easy to follow. Metcalf does just about everything well. He has speed, size, strength, footwork, hand usage, vertical ability, lateral quickness, explosion, blocking, ability to gain yards after the catch, and toughness.
Hand usage and footwork are crucial to beating a cornerback on the release. Metcalf uses excellent footwork to set up the defender and then uses violent hands to keep his chest free. This technique allows him to create immediate separation, which often results in an easy win on the rest of the play. Playing press-man coverage against Metcalf without coverage over the top is one of the worst decisions a defensive coordinator can make.
Not only does he win off the line of scrimmage, but he is a more than capable route runner. He stems his routes properly to create good leverage, sinks his hips low, is physical at the top of the route, and explodes out of his cuts to create separation. Metcalf was asked to run a small route tree at Ole Miss but shows all the tools necessary to run a wide array of routes at the pro level.
Metcalf is a big human being. At 6-foot 4 and 230 pounds, he is hard to cover even when the cornerback is in the proper position. Metcalf uses size to his advantage in every aspect of the game. When blocking, he uses his large frame and quick feet to square up the opposition. His length and strength make it hard for anyone to release from his grip. Because of his range and size, Metcalf has a large catch radius. He plucks balls out of position and gives the quarterback wiggle room on his accuracy. Metcalf is excellent in the vertical passing game because he is so physical that little bumps and nudges do nothing to change his stride. His leaping ability and length in the air are hard to beat for smaller defensive backs.
For a big receiver, Metcalf is fast. He uses speed to win in route running by either blowing right past a defender on vertical routes or by scaring them into turning their hips too soon. When a defender turns their hips too quickly, Metcalf makes the underneath catch. Because of his speed and physicality with the ball in his hands, he is dangerous in yards after the catch. Metcalf can turn a short pass into a significant gain because he can outrun defenders and is hard to tackle. He is not scared of a big hit and often is the one dealing the punishment. A true three level WR is not easy to find, but Metcalf is one.
The biggest knock on Metcalf doesn’t have to do with his play on the field. He has an injury history. In 2016, he played just two games before a foot injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. In 2018, he played only five games before suffering a scary neck injury. Many people were worried that the neck might keep him sidelined for more than one year. Most of those fears went away when he decided to declare for the draft. Any lingering doubt about his health should evaporate at the combine. If the independent doctors there deem Metcalf’s neck okay, teams should feel confident enough to take him early in the draft.
Why the Buffalo Bills
The single most significant reason that Buffalo and Metcalf are a perfect match goes by the name Josh Allen, the face of the franchise. Allen has a cannon for an arm and is extremely athletic for his size, but struggles with accuracy and ability to read defenses. Last year, Allen struggled terribly in the passing game. In 12 games, Allen threw for 2,074 yards, ten touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and a lousy 52.8 completion percentage. The only way the offense could be competitive was by Allen utilizing his legs. Allen running all over the field is not a sustainable way to win football games, and the team needs to find a way to improve his game in terms of passing. A receiver like Metcalf would blend instantly with Allen’s skill-set and provide a more sustainable way for him to be successful.
Metcalf’s catch radius would allow Allen a larger window to throw the ball into, which helps mask his accuracy issues. Size and athleticism like Metcalf’s will enable him to win most 50/50 balls, which will provide Allen with a consistently friendly target when he has nowhere else to turn. Throwing to a guy that will rarely let a poor result happen and more often than not, make a good play, is on every QB’s wish list.
Not only does Metcalf help cover for Allen’s weaknesses, but he can help build on his strengths. As said above, Allen has a cannon for an arm. He can throw 50-yard passes effortlessly and Metcalf is fantastic in the deep parts of the field. If this dream match becomes a reality, Metcalf could feasibly become one of the better downfield threats in the entire NFL. Allen needs a young, elite weapon to grow with him, and Metcalf would provide that.
The next best reason to draft Metcalf is the current roster for the Bills. It contains eight wide receivers, none of whom have produced even 700 yards in a single season. The headliners of the unit are Zay Jones and Robert Foster who combined for 83 catches, 1,193 yards, and ten touchdowns. Those numbers would be high for one player but are horrendous for the top two receivers on a team. The second-leading receiver on the team in terms of receptions was running back LeSean McCoy with 34. The Bills also recently cut their number one tight end, Charles Clay. They need an alpha receiver to not only produce on the outside but to take pressure off the other guys.
The Bills are in dire need of a top-notch receiver to help young QB, Josh Allen. They currently have no one on the roster that has earned the trust of the team to take that role. Metcalf is everything the team needs and more. He is fast, big, strong, has excellent technique, and he compliments Allen’s game perfectly. If the Bills see D.K. Metcalf is available at the ninth pick of the draft, they should sprint to the podium.