There’s one thing you can count on every offseason, and that’s Alabama wide receivers going early in the NFL Draft. The Crimson Tide basically have a patent on pro receivers, and have another talented duo in Jameson Williams and John Metchie III this year. Unfortunately, both receivers suffered torn ACLs late in the 2021 season, miring their stock in uncertainty. But there’s good news on Metchie, who quietly remains an early-round candidate at WR.
John Metchie III’s 2021 season at Alabama
In 2020, Metchie managed to catch 55 passes for 916 yards and 6 touchdowns while sharing targets with first-round picks DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. His impressive sophomore production earned him early notoriety on the 2022 NFL Draft circuit. Ahead of 2021, Metchie was penciled in as one of the best receivers in the class.
Even as his new teammate Williams outshined his star, Metchie still remained a steady threat in the Crimson Tide’s offense. He played in every game up to the conference championship, hauling in 96 catches for 1,142 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Metchie was on track to be a vital weapon in the College Football Playoff, but an ACL tear suffered in the conference championship against Georgia sidelined him and placed a cloud over his draft stock.
We haven’t heard much of Metchie since then, but the Alabama WR declared despite questions surrounding his ACL. And now, as the NFL Draft slowly approaches, we have a new update from Pro Football Network’s Chief NFL Draft Analyst Tony Pauline. Pauline sat down with Cody Roark on Thursday’s segment of Between the Hashes and provided insight on Metchie’s rehabilitation status.
Metchie expected to have a quick recovery after ACL tear
On Thursday’s segment of Between the Hashes, Roark asked Pauline about the status of Metchie following his ACL tear. Here’s what Pauline had to say in regard to Metchie’s recovery and how far along he is through January.
“I’m told so far so good. It was a clean tear. It looks like it’s going to be a quick rehab. There should be no issues with it. And I’m told that he’s probably going to go a little bit earlier than people think. I don’t know that he’s going to squeeze into the first round, but I think he could be off the board early in Round 2.
“I mean, again, a receiver who checks a lot of the boxes, is probably more complete than, say, Jaylen Waddle was a year ago, with his receiving skills — though obviously not as fast,” Pauline said. “Doesn’t have the great explosion that Jaylen Waddle has, although he does a very good job of it. But right now, what I’m hearing about Metchie is it wasn’t a bad tear. You’re always looking, you know, was it a clean tear? Was it not a clean tear? Which will project how long the rehabilitation takes. I’m told he’s getting the thumbs up. It’s going to be a quick recovery, and he’s going to go a little bit higher than people expect.”
This is big news for Metchie, who was viewed as a potential top-10 receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft when healthy. Non-clean tears can complicate the recovery process, but since it’s clean, there’s a good chance Metchie can undergo a full recovery and be ready at some point in 2022.
Is Metchie worth a Round 2 pick as a prospect?
When he was healthy, Metchie didn’t quite command the hype that guys like Smith and Waddle did. But he still passed the eye test as a worthy receiver prospect. That was clear from the start for a lot of analysts, including PFN NFL Draft Analyst Oliver Hodgkinson. Hodgkinson wrote up Metchie’s scouting report and had this to say about the Alabama WR.
“Metchie is a genuine speed threat at the wide receiver position. He can get downfield in a hurry, and once open, there’s very little chance that he’s going to be caught. His speed gives him the ability to create and maintain separation at all three levels of the field.
“In addition to his speed, Metchie displays impressive route-running ability,” Hodgkinson wrote. “He exhibits quick football work and excellent change of direction, which enables him to fake out coverage, allowing for even greater separation. But Metchie is not just a downfield threat; he is equally adept at coming across the middle on slant routes. Finally, his ability to cradle in an over-the-shoulder catch is a wonder to behold.”
As long as he’s healthy, Metchie is a complete, dynamic receiver with premier playmaking potential at the NFL level. And according to Pauline, he’s on the right track in his recovery.
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