I’ll admit my bias from the beginning: My background is in psychology. Playing an interdependent sport like football in a league based on parity, you need to be able to roll with the punches, and it was this phenomenon that I studied in school. Resilience, hardiness, grit, whatever you want to call it, you need plenty of it to survive the grind of the NFL, and frankly, life in general. I sat down with University of Michigan safety Josh Metellus at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this weekend, and I had one thing on my mind: “Why is your Twitter handle @NoExcuses_23?”
“Basically when I was around elementary school, right before middle school, I was playing all types of sports. I was coming home from track practice, I was tired, I didn’t feel like doing anything.” My anticipation mounted as I waited for the who of this story, you knew it was only a matter of time before Josh revealed his motivator – his mother.
“You keep complaining, sounds like a bunch of excuses,” Josh’s mom retorted.
Josh would admit to me and the small gathering of media at table #1, “I didn’t wanna do my homework, that’s really what it was.”
Josh’s mom? “That sounds like excuses, you chose to do this.”
“Ever since then it was just my thing, don’t make no excuses no matter how I’m feeling, no matter what the situation is,” reflected Metellus.
The 5’11”, 209-pound safety from Hollywood, Florida worked with Devin Bush’s father at Pembroke Pines High School and earned honorable mention in the Big 10 in 2019 and second-team All-Big 10 in 2018. He finished 2019 with 63 tackles and 2 interceptions, but the overall zeitgeist is that the tape in 2018 popped a bit better.
On the opposite side of the numbers-driven results of the Combine is the relentless pursuit of trying to project the man, and how he’ll swim in the undoubtedly murky waters of the NFL. As Mike Tyson so eloquently put, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” I gravitate to those that respond to that punch with the smirk of experience. At a point, getting to the highest stage of football means being surrounded by some of the most gifted athletes on Earth, and it becomes an exercise in opportunity and rising above the ashes with mental fortitude where athleticism separated you before.
Based on my interview with Josh Metellus at the NFL Combine, I’d say he’s been preparing for these ups-and-downs his whole life, and his no-nonsense mother should be proud in helping him deal with the angst and uncertainty that accompanies life, having nothing but an unresolved determination to overcome it.
On the field, PFN Draft Analyst Matt Valdovinos projects Metellus as a safety/dime-backer hybrid: “He’s an excellent tackler who’s not afraid to come down and let someone know they got hit.” Matt projects safety/dime-backer and you also see possibilities of nickel and LB capabilities. A physical player and fearless in run support. Schematically, he is adaptable.
One team showing early interest and has done so since the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team discussed the Bucs scheme and how his ability to play man could be of value. Metellus cited Jerry Jeudy of Alabama and Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin when he was asked about his most worthy adversaries at the collegiate level.
Projections across cyberspace put him in the Day 2/early Day 3 category of the 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas, and the intangibles and approach to the stressors of proving yourself will give him every chance to seize his inevitable opportunity in the NFL. For young players in his situation, it usually starts with special teams and proving your mettle there, while biding time to master the playbook. For someone like Metellus, you could be learning three positions simultaneously, if not more. Yes, he has experience in multiple roles and situations, but mastering the languages and nuances of three positions at a professional level while moving to a new city in a new learning environment can be a challenge on a young man.
Luckily for Metellus, he embraces the challenge.
For all the latest news and rumors around the NFL Combine, click here and follow us @pfn365 — make sure you bookmark and visit often. Tony Pauline and Ben Allbright, PFN’s resident insiders, share what they know as we trek ever so closely to the 2020 NFL Draft.
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