Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf announces plans to enter 2019 NFL draft

Nov 4, 2017; Lexington, KY, USA; Ole Miss Rebels wide receiver D.K. Metcalf (14) runs the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium. Ole Miss defeated Kentucky 37-34. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Rang

One day after his beloved Rebels lost the Egg Bowl to rival Mississippi State, Mississippi redshirt sophomore wide receiver D.K. Metcalf announced via social media his intention to forgo his final two years of college eligibility and enter the 2019 NFL draft.

A smooth accelerator with an NFL ready frame at 6-3, 230 pounds, Metcalf might just be the most gifted receiver prospect in the country.

Before a team is willing to invest a first round pick to acquire his services, however, Metcalf will need to convince scouts of his ability to stay healthy. After all, he missed nearly half of Mississippi’s games over the past three seasons.

Metcalf suffered a season-ending neck injury in Mississippi’s Week Seven win over Arkansas, reportedly undergoing surgery October 22. Prior to a breakout 2017 campaign in which he earned Freshman All-SEC honors with 39 receptions for 646 yards and seven touchdowns, Metcalf missed all but the first two games of the 2016 season after breaking his foot.

Medical concerns have not recently dissuaded teams from investing early picks in talented receivers, with Mike Williams (Chargers) and John Ross (Bengals) earning top 10 picks two years ago. The 6-4, 220 pound Williams is particularly noteworthy, as like Metcalf, he suffered a season-ending neck injury at Clemson prior to convincing scouts at the 2017 NFL combine that he was healthy.

While Metcalf’s lack of durability is troubling, his talent is undeniable.

An NFL legacy who followed his All-American father, Terrance’s, footsteps to Ole Miss, Metcalf has looked like a future pro since first stepping onto the field.

He scored touchdowns in each of his first two college games (before breaking his foot against Wofford) and led the Rebels with five receiving touchdowns this season prior to sustaining the neck injury against the Razorbacks.

He excelled as a vertical threat in the Rebels’ aggressive passing game, averaging an eye-popping 21.9 yards on 26 receptions in 2018. He shows good lateral agility and hand strength to battle through press coverage and gets to top speed quickly. While perhaps not as physical or reliable a pass-catcher as his teammate, Brown, Metcalf is a nightmare downfield, beating cornerbacks with his prototypical combination of size, speed and body control, offering big play ability similar to what a healthy (and focused) Josh Gordon has flashed throughout his NFL career.

Gordon leaves Ole Miss with 67 career receptions for 1,228 yards and 14 touchdowns.