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What routes is DK Metcalf running so far as a rookie?

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Seattle Seahawks v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

With the final selection in the 2019 NFL Draft the Seattle Seahawks selected wide receiver DK Metcalf out of Ole Miss. Metcalf is the prototypical big-bodied receiver that Pete Carroll has been searching for since arriving in 2010, and in the time since the team has seen Mike Williams, Sidney Rice, Chris Matthews and countless others come in and attempt to take on the role that Carroll seems to want filled. Thus, when Metcalf slipped in the draft and was available for the Hawks to trade up and select, they jumped all over the opportunity.

Of course, to go along with the hype about his size and speed, some critics were quick to point out Metcalf’s poor testing in the agility drills at the combine, while others went down the rode of his limited route tree. Having played in Phil Longo’s version of the Air Raid offense at Ole Miss, it was no secret that Metcalf was not an advanced route runner, and he even took it upon himself to work with a route running coach during the offseason.

That said, as we here at Field Gulls expected, his role within the Seahawks offense doesn’t require him to have the polished route running skills of a Doug Baldwin or Stefon Diggs. His job is to be the deep threat to open up the underneath routes for Will Dissly, Tyler Lockett and others, and so far he’s done exactly what has been asked of him. Now, however, thanks to a tweet from James Koh, who is a NextGenStats analyst for Amazon’s Thursday Night Football pre-game show, we now have a visual of the tracking data on every route on which Metcalf has been targeted this season thanks to Koh’s access to tracking data.

How one wishes to interpret that route chart is up to the viewer, but at least based on this very small sample, it appears as though he may be better at catching passes once he’s at least 25 yards past the line of scrimmage. I wonder if that is how long it takes him to get up to speed and generate some separation by blowing past a defensive back, and thus his catch rate is better deeper than it is in the 10-20 yard range. Of course, it could simply be nothing more than randomness rearing its head, so we’ll have to see how the Seahawks continue to utilize him and how he continues to perform over the next twelve games.