Road to the Draft

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O'HARA'S 2019 DRAFT PREVIEW: Wide receivers

D.K. Metcalf of Mississippi worked hard to achieve the physical stature that made him one of the top wide receivers in this year’s draft.

He is so heavily muscled at 6-3, 228 pounds, that Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said at the Combine he’s built like a house.

It’s a high-speed mobile home. Metcalf’s workout results – topped by a blazing 40-yard dash time of 4.33 seconds – were jaw dropping.

That cemented him along with Marquise Brown of Oklahoma as the two receivers most likely to be drafted in the first round.

It’s unlikely that the Detroit Lions will take a receiver with the eighth pick overall, but they could add one in the later rounds from what looks like a class that has depth, if not star power.

Metcalf had invaluable guidance away from the weight room from his father, Terrence. Terrence played offensive line at Mississippi and spent seven seasons with the Chicago Bears after being drafted in the third round in 2002.

“Everybody looks up to their Dad when they’re in their lives, so I’m just blessed to have a person who did everything that I’m going to now,” Metcalf said in his Combine media interview.

“It’s like having a cheat sheet to life. Just listen to everything he’s taught me.”

View photos of Bucky Brooks' Top 5 wide receiver draft prospects.

One thing Metcalf no doubt learned is to take nothing for granted in football, including the draft.

Size and speed don’t mean everything in evaluating players, especially at wide receiver.

Brown is a half foot shorter (5-9) and 62 pounds lighter (166) than Metcalf but could be the first receiver drafted. He has been compared favorably to DeSean Jackson as a game-breaking threat from the slot or split wide.

However, Brown’s draft status is in doubt because of a foot injury sustained in the Big 12 Conference championship game that prevented him from running for the scouts.

Following is a breakdown of the top receiver candidates, with one to watch and others, along with the Lions’ position breakdown and the Lions’ draft priority.

Draft receiver rating: Depth, but not a glamor position. Possible no receiver will be taken in the top half of the first round for the second straight year.

Lions receiver breakdown: Veteran free agent Danny Amendola was added to a group whose production declined last year for numerous reasons. Kenny Golladay stepped up in his second year to catch 70 passes for 1,063 yards and five TDs. Marvin Jones Jr. dropped from 61 catches and nine TDs to 35 catches and five TDs because of a knee injury that limited him to nine games. A player to watch is Brandon Powell, who played sparingly as an undrafted rookie but caught six passes for 103 yards in the season finale.

Lions draft priority: Certainly not in the first round, but a strong chance to add a receiver, perhaps on Day 2.

Top 8 wide receivers:

(Note: Workout results are from Combine or Pro Day.)

1. Marquise Brown, Oklahoma: 5-9, 166.

Profile: Small stature, big production. Foot injury kept him from working out at Combine. JC transfer, playmaker two seasons for Sooners: 27 games, 132 catches, 17 TDs, 18.3 yards per catch. Playing with Kyler Murray helped him, and no doubt helped Murray. Plays bigger than size.

2. D.K. Metcalf, Mississippi: 6-3, 228.

Profile: Lit up Combine with 4.33 40, 27 reps in bench and overall athleticism. Has top straight-ahead speed but lacks agility. Injuries cut short 2016 and 2018 seasons. Had a great start in 2018: 26 catches, five TDs, 21.9 yards per catch before season-ending neck injury.

3. A.J. Brown, Mississippi: 6-0, 226.

Profile: Not as big or fast (4.49 40) as Metcalf but thrived on his own at Ole Miss. Holds school career record for receiving yards (2,984). Three-year player, had 1,252 receiving yards and 11 TDs in 2017 and 1,320-6 in 2018. Versatile athlete, 19th round pick in 2016 by the Padres.

4. Parris Campbell, Ohio State: 6-0, 205.

Profile: Dwayne Haskins throwing 50 TD passes in 2018 gave his receivers plenty of opportunity to put up big stats, and Campbell took advantage. Led Buckeyes with 90 catches, 1,068 yards and 12 TDs in 14 games. Four-year player after 2014 red-shirt season, blistered Combine 40 in 4.31.

5. N’Keal Harry, Arizona State: 6-2, 228.

Profile: Big three-year production: Receptions of 58, 82 and 73 from 2016-18. Over 1,000-yard mark last two seasons (1,142 and 1,088). Fits 2019 class of big WRs, but not exceptionally fast (4.53 40). Averaged more than 20 points, 10 rebounds on his high school basketball team.

6. Deebo Samuel, South Carolina: 5-11, 214.

Profile: Played four seasons after 2014 red shirt, with 2017 cut to three games -- and 15 catches -- by broken leg. Rebounded in 2018: 60 catches, 882 yards, 11 TDs. Career average of 14 yards per catch. Strafed Clemson in 2018 for 10 catches, 210 yards, three TDs. Posted 4.48 40 at Combine.

View photos of NFL prospect Deebo Samuel.

7. Riley Ridley, Georgia: 6-1, 199.

Profile: Had career high six catches vs. Alabama, and career high two TDs vs. rival Georgia Tech. Potential outweighs his production. Three-year player, best season was 2018: 44 of his 70 career catches, nine TDs, 13 yards per catch. Brother Calvin was Atlanta’s 2018 first-round pick.

8. Kelvin Harmon, N.C. State: 6-2, 221.

Profile: Strong start and finish. Average speed (4.6 40) but set school freshman record in 2016 with five TD catches and 462 receiving yards, third most by a freshman. After 1,000-plus yard 2017 he finished career in 2018 with 81 catches, 1,186 yards and a 15-catch game vs. Wake Forest.

One to watch: Hakeem Butler, Iowa State: 6-5, 227.

Profile: Everything about him is big for his position – height, weight, arm length, hands. And most important, production. Fast enough for his size (4.48 40) and had 18 reps in the bench press. In 2018 was No. 1 in FBS with an average of 22 yards per catch and 60 catches for 1,318 yards and nine TDs.

A three-year player, steadily progressed from nine catches in 2016 to 41 for 697 yards and seven TDs in 2017 to his big finale in 2018. Butler had six 100-yard games in 2018 and saved his best for last – nine catches for 192 yards in a 28-26 loss to Washington State in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28.

One question to be answered is whether he’ll be able to use his size to make big plays down the field like he did at Iowa State. He had 10 plays of 40 or more yards in 2018.

Others: Emanuel Hall, Missouri; Dionte Johnson, Toledo; J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford; Jalen Hurd, Baylor; Mecole Hardman, Georgia; Miles Boykin, Notre Dame; KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State; Darius Slayton, Auburn; Anthony Johnson, Buffalo; Terry McLaurin, Ohio State.

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