Alright all ye who already purchased DK Metcalf jerseys. It’s time to celebrate. I’m also man enough to admit that my “what if” article concerned with Metcalf’s productivity this season already looks like it’s in danger.
In the Seattle Seahawks home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, Metcalf grabbed four of six targets for 89 yards, leading all Seahawks in both receptions and yards. But beyond the stat line, DK simply looked like a confident receiver. As noted on the radio broadcast by Dave Wyman, Metcalf definitively did not look like a rookie.
At least, as a pass catcher. Metcalf also had offensive pass interference and a holding calls against him, signaling the commonplace growing pains for rookies adjusting to NFL game speed.
As it happens, Seattle has actually enjoyed some meaningful rookie debuts from pass catchers over the years, and Metcalf’s strong start signals at the very least that his ceiling should remain lofty.
Current teammate Tyler Lockett is one such example. Lockett went 4 for 4 in his first NFL game, albeit only for 34 yards. However, Lockett wildly impressed as a kick returner, so much so that teams quickly gave up on giving him opportunities. In his first game of 2015 Lockett returned four kicks, his two punts going for an average of 31.5 yards and one TD.
All-time great Doug Baldwin enjoyed another significant game one. Baldwin went 4/6 for 83 yards and a TD in his debut against the San Francisco 49ers
Will Dissly was the most recent impressive opener last year, as he hauled in three of his five targets for 105 yards and a TD.
That’s some pretty good company for a strong start, as beyond those three it drops off quite a bit for some of Seattle’s other notable receivers.
David Moore was zero for one in his debut, 3rd round pick Amara Darboah was one of two in his, and 2nd round pick Paul Richardson sat two games before going one for one and seven yards in his first game.
Going back all the way to Golden Tate, even he struggled to maintain consistency while he flashed big play ability. Tate caught one pass for 52 yards in his initiation.
By far, the biggest offensive bright spot in this game was that every single one of DK’s catches was contested, and he handled himself beautifully. Mookie shared the first three receptions from the first half here, and Metcalf’s final catch was perhaps the best one. Even if it was potentially ill-advised from Russell Wilson.
DK Metcalf: LIVING UP TO THE HYPE pic.twitter.com/A2r1Co0dNS— Seattle Times Sports (@SeaTimesSports) September 8, 2019
Two of Metcalf’s receptions were third down catches that gave Seattle a new set of downs. These are huge under-pressure plays by which Metcalf is very obviously unintimidated.
Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin both held one significant advantage over Metcalf. Neither of them held the expectations that DK carries with him into 2019. So far, he has nothing to diminish the hype or expectations and gives every indication that he probably should have been taken higher than the very end of the second round.
Metcalf’s 89 yards today are a new Seahawks record for a rookie debut as a receiver. Only Will Dissly had more yards, though as a tight end. Pete Carroll himself said it was a very strong start in his postgame conference.
DK definitely has some work to do tightening up the things that make more of a difference in the NFL. His two penalties were evidence of the learning curve that rookies have, however one stands as potentially unique to Metcalf. His first penalty - which was declined - was an offensive pass interference that I’d chalk up to him simply being five inches and thirty pounds bigger than more than one NFL corner. Metcalf may have to adjust to potential size-biased penalties, although one hopes that the atrocity that was the officiating of this game does not carry over from week to week.
Metcalf will hope to continue his strong start against the Pittsburgh Steelers who have yet to show their strategy as they kickoff Sunday evening.