It turns out there aren’t any cones on a football field during games.
And when you’re a 6-foot-4, 229-pound physical specimen with gifted hands, football instincts and blazing 4.33 40-yard dash speed, it doesn’t matter how well you run around toy-sized traffic tools.
It’s a lesson the Eagles — and every other team that could benefit from a game-changing wide receiver — learned on Sunday when DK Metcalf torched Philadelphia in the Seattle Seahawks’ 17-9 wild-card victory.
Marshawn Lynch scored the first Seattle touchdown of the game. But for much of the day when it mattered most, the Seahawks looked to their rookie wide receiver to make big plays.
DK Metcalf’s massive day
With Seattle holding a 10-6 lead early in the third quarter, quarterback Russell Wilson faked a handoff before looking down the left sideline to find Metcalf streaking past cornerback Avonte Maddox.
He lofted a pass that traveled 40 yards in the air into the outstretched hands of Metcalf, who corralled the ball and tumbled to the ground as he reached to make the catch.
By the time Maddox caught up with him, Metcalf gathered his bearings and muscled his way into the end zone on the 53-yard play, using the force of his now famously massive frame that made headlines at the scouting combine and earned a feature on Sunday’s NBC game broadcast.
It was a perfect example of what makes Metcalf a special talent — a combination of size, speed, hands and poise that add up to render doubts over his ability to change direction moot.
Wilson regularly looked to Metcalf in crunch time
Metcalf’s touchdown catch wasn’t his only play to hammer home that point on Sunday. He made a third-and-11 catch in traffic to extend a first-quarter drive that led to a field goal.
He made a 26-yard catch-and-run on third down in the second quarter to extend the drive that resulted in the Lynch touchdown.
And when the Seahawks needed a first down to seal the victory in the final two minutes, Wilson threw deep downfield to Metcalf on third-and-10 with Seattle backed up at its own 11-yard line. Metcalf hauled in the 36-yard pass that allowed Wilson to set up in victory formation for three straight plays to run out the clock.
In the end, it added up to seven catches for 160 yards, a touchdown and a first-hand reminder to the Eagles that they made a mistake passing on him in April’s draft.
Metcalf’s dramatic draft fall
Metcalf entered the draft with a massive amount of hype, touted as a top-10 prospect. When his name didn’t get called on Day 1, the realities of green-room disappointment set in. Metcalf was not a first-round pick.
He was labeled as a victim of combine hype. He blew media away with his strength and speed metrics that outperformed almost every receiving prospect in the draft.
Less agile than Tom Brady?
But then there was the three-cone drill, the agility test that appeared to sink his hype, along with concerns that the rest of his combine metrics didn’t add up to actual football performance.
He could outrun every other receiver in a straight line while weighing in at 239 pounds and crushing it on the bench press. But he couldn’t beat Tom Brady in the cone drill.
8 receivers taken before Metcalf
It resulted in eight receivers going off the draft board ahead of Metcalf before the Seahawks traded up to select him with the final pick in the second round.
One of those receivers that went before him was JJ Arcega-Whiteside, whom the Eagles selected seven picks ahead of Metcalf. Whiteside didn’t record a catch on Sunday. He rarely played this season, and his total production of 10 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown barely eclipsed Metcalf’s numbers on Sunday alone.
Metcalf, meanwhile, tallied 58 catches for 900 yards and seven touchdowns in a breakout rookie campaign.
Eagles could have used Metcalf all season
One defining element of this Eagles team was lack of production from an injured and inept receiving corps that often looked little like that of a professional football team. They could have certainly used Metcalf’s services all season, much less on Sunday.
Metcalf reveled in his revival from draft disappointment, telling NBC after the game that he uses it as motivation.
“It’s great,” Metcalf said. “I think falling to the second round was the best thing to happen to me, cause I’ve got a chip on my shoulder every time I play.”
Lynch sums things up
Meanwhile, Lynch summed up concisely what makes Metcalf special.
“That he a big-ass dude who can move like that,” Lynch said, per NBC Sports Northwest.
Some things in football are complicated. Others are simple. And when you’re a general manager who sees a big-ass dude who can move like Metcalf, you probably shouldn’t let him drop to the second round.
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