DK Metcalf’s draft, revisited: N’Keal Harry, Andy Isabella & the 8 WRs taken before Seahawks star in 2019

DK Metcalf was drafted too low. It already feels safe to say that, and you can knock on some wood if needed to avoid jinxing the young Seahawks star.

It’s probably too early to say definitively which of the eight wide receivers drafted ahead of Metcalf in the 2019 NFL Draft shouldn’t have been, but the last pick of the second round (64th overall) looks like a steal for Metcalf, a physical specimen who’s shown he has real receiving ability, too. Come on, though: eight wide receivers ahead of Metcalf? At the time, there were bust concerns, but two years in to Metcalf’s NFL career, it seems ridiculous.

We’re not here to criticize the selections ahead of Metcalf (not yet, anyway — maybe in a few years). Right now, we’re here to inform. How did eight wide receivers get taken ahead of Metcalf? Here’s the list and why teams may have opted for these players.

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Marquise Brown

Brown played two seasons for the Sooners, and in both he was one of college football’s best receivers. Of course, it helped to be catching passes from Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray in those two years, but NFL teams were convinced his speed would play in the pros. 

Drafted into a run-heavy offense led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, Brown scored two long touchdowns in his very first NFL game. He’s been a bit of a hit-or-miss player due more to his offense’s setup than anything else, but his talent appears correctly judged.

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N’Keal Harry

Welp. If we wanted to rush to judgement and name one of these eight wide receivers a bust, it might have to be Harry. He’s been hurt and ineffective despite joining a New England offense in drastic need of a playmaker on the outside. 

Harry, like Brown, surpassed 1,000 yards in his last two seasons as a college player, and at 6-4 with 4.5-second 40-yard dash speed, it seemed Harry would possess one of the best combos of size and speed in the draft. It could still play out that way, but his NFL career didn’t start fast.

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Deebo Samuel

Samuel wasn’t a pure receiver in college, although he caught a lot of passes. South Carolina used him in gadget-like plays and in the running game occasionally, along with on returns. It was expected that Samuel would bring explosiveness in all aspects to the NFL.

With the jet sweep becoming a popular action in the modern NFL, Samuel has looked right at home for the 49ers. He may never come close to catching 100 passes in a season, but he’s displayed the dynamic talent that made him a high draft pick.

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A.J. Brown

Brown, Metcalf’s teammate, impressed at the NFL Combine, although not to the extent of Metcalf. The big appeal with Brown over Metcalf was college production — Brown stayed healthy and put up big numbers, compared to the oft-injured and less productive Metcalf.

Brown, like Marquise Brown, made some flashy plays in his rookie season, but more so than Marquise, A.J. Brown rolled into his second year looking more like the complete receiver he was at Ole Miss. There’s a chance he and Metcalf could end up the two best receivers in this class after being college teammates. 

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No one doubted Hardman’s explosiveness, but he was definitely a project and situational pick for the Chiefs. Across three college seasons, Hardman caught a total of 60 passes. He was always going to be an explosive returner and offensive weapon when put out in space.

Hardman has mostly been that for the Chiefs. When he’s the one going deep on a Patrick Mahomes play-action pass, he’ll reel it in. But it doesn’t look as simple as a direct heir to Tyreek Hill that some viewed Hardman as, with his role still being more specialized in the early going.

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J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Arcega-Whiteside brought a lot of similarities to Eagles wideout Alshon Jeffery when Philadelphia picked him. At 6-3, Arcega-Whiteside was coming off a 14-TD final season for the Cardinal, presenting a potentially dynamic red-zone threat.

Despite lots of injuries to WRs in Arcega-Whiteside’s early time in Philly, he’s rarely broken through to make any sort of plays. His physical presence that worked so well in college doesn’t appear to have translated against better athletes in the early going of his NFL career.

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Campbell is especially tough to judge in the early stages of his NFL career due to injuries. When he’s been on the field, he’s looked like an explosive player out of the slot, just as he was at Ohio State.

Not helping Campbell’s cause is his college teammate, Terry McLaurin, who went 76th overall in this draft and has been great despite playing for poor Washington teams. But the jury is definitely still out on Campbell long-term.

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Andy Isabella

At 5-10 but with blazing speed, Isabella was nearly unguardable in small-conference football at UMass. It does seem silly to compare him to Metcalf now that they’ve both stepped on NFL fields, though.

A 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine likely boosted Isabella’s stock heading into draft day, and with Arizona having picked Kyler Murray first overall in this draft, it made sense to try and nab a wide receiver. The Cardinals just may have drafted a situational one instead of an every-down threat.

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