D.K. Metcalf vs. A.J. Brown: Old college teammates the future stars of the NFL?

Both A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf were drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Amazingly, these two unbelievable physical specimens played next to each other at the University of Mississippi before heading to the NFL. But what is just as amazing is that fifty players were selected ahead of Brown. Additionally, the league prized eight other wide receivers over Metcalf, who ended up being the final pick in Round 2.

D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown are elite athletes

Again, both players are extremely physically imposing and possess rare physical gifts. Brown is rightfully being compared to his new teammate, Julio Jones, who is one of the most impressive wide receivers in the history of the game. As for Metcalf, there really isn’t anyone to compare him to. He is that rare.

Brown stands at 6’1/2″ and weighs 226 pounds, with a great build for the position. Metcalf is almost three inches taller, just two pounds heavier, but probably even more impressive in terms of his body structure and composition.

Metcalf’s 3-cone drill time led to his downfall in the 2019 NFL Draft

Metcalf, who has recently flirted with running track at a very high level, ran a 4.33 40-yard dash compared to the 4.49 by his former teammate. Brown’s jump numbers were quite impressive, but nothing compared to Metcalf, who posted a 40.5″ vertical and an 11’2″ broad jump. What hurt Metcalf’s NFL Draft stock was his horrid 3-cone drill time of 7.38 at the NFL Combine. In hindsight, this seems laughable now.

Many believed at that time that Metcalf, despite his nearly perfect size/speed combination, wasn’t able to change directions or corner well out of his breaks. Further complicating matters, he wasn’t asked to run a very expansive route tree in college. Brown, meanwhile, aligned all over the formation and ran a diverse tree.

As such, Metcalf was seen as just a downfield receiver. However, he has proven those critics wrong. The Seahawks receiver continues to improve with quick-hitting routes and getting in and out of his breaks with speed and accuracy.

Nevertheless, neither Brown nor Metcalf are true route technicians. Brown is elite after the catch and uses his big, powerful frame very well to shield defenders, but he doesn’t win because he is an elite separator.

D.K. Metcalf’s and A.J. Brown’s stats

Metcalf hasn’t missed a game in his two seasons with the Seahawks. In those 32 games, he has 141 receptions for 2,203 yards and 17 touchdowns with a 15.6 average per reception.

On the other hand, Brown has appeared in two fewer games and has 122 catches for 2,126 yards. Yet, Brown has found the end zone 19 times and averages 17.4 yards per catch with much of that production coming after the catch. Both play with a very good quarterback, but that edge must go to Metcalf with Russell Wilson.

Nevertheless, Brown has benefited a great deal from the presence of Derrick Henry and the masterful offensive scheme that Arthur Smith (now Atlanta Falcons head coach) operated so well in Tennessee. While Brown could potentially take a semi-backseat to Jones this year, he has been clearly the Titans’ No. 1 receiver.

Metcalf is beginning to take a hold of that moniker with Tyler Lockett getting plenty of attention in his own right. Metcalf is a huge mismatch, and few cornerbacks can stack up to what he brings to the table.

He took a big step forward in his second season by becoming more dangerous running slants. Originally, this was a concerning aspect of his game entering the NFL.

Metcalf is amongst the best deep-ball receivers in football. He runs a high percentage of go routes with great success. Likewise, Wilson is amongst the best deep-ball passers in the league.

Both Metcalf and Brown create problems for opposing cornerbacks

Metcalf beats up on his opponent when facing man coverage in a way that you just don’t often see at the NFL level. Still, he is learning the nuances of defeating zone coverages.

Brown wins at all levels of the field and is now showing an expansive route tree. He is great in the screen game, routes over the middle of the field, and the deep ball. Like Metcalf, Brown just abuses man coverage, which might be his greatest strength.

He too is a total mismatch. Even with Jones in the picture, Brown is on the path to becoming one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers. For these reasons, Brown gets the slight nod over Metcalf, for now.

Nonetheless, I expect these two to have incredible careers, and they haven’t even scratched the surface. Apart from maybe Justin Jefferson, is there any young wide receiver you would take over Brown or Metcalf going forward?

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