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DK Metcalf barely stays in ESPN’s top-10 wide receivers poll

Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

ESPN’s polling of anonymous scouts, executives, coaches, and players has produced some surprising results, namely Quandre Diggs not making the list of top-10 safeties, and Lamar Jackson not even cracking the top-10 for quarterbacks. For reference, Deshaun Watson was ranked in the top-10 and he hasn’t played for two years and likely won’t be playing for at least several games into the 2022 season.

We’ve reached the wide receivers portion of this segment, and unlike most other positions the Seattle Seahawks do have an obvious candidate for a top-10 ranking. DK Metcalf was No. 9 last season, but experienced a statistical dropoff in 2021 in part due to injuries and some not great quarterback play, so his spot among the best in the league was tenuous at best. As it turns out, Metcalf is still in the top-10 but only via tiebreaker.

Just a note from ESPN on the criteria:

The objective is to identify the best players right now for 2022. This is not a five-year projection or an achievement award. Who are the best players today? Pretty simple.

Now let’s get to how DK held onto the No. 10 spot:

Highest ranking: 5 | Lowest ranking: Out of top 10
Age: 24 | Last year’s ranking: 9

Metcalf narrowly won a heated tiebreaker with the Chargers’ Keenan Allen for the 10th spot, a process that included at least 20 recasts. The results were fascinating because Metcalf and Allen couldn’t be more different as receivers. Allen is a fantastic route runner, while the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Metcalf is an unfinished product with an incredible size/speed combo.

“More explosion, more scoring upside with him over Allen,” an NFL personnel evaluator said. Added an NFL receivers coach: “He’s a better route-runner than you’d think. He can bend.”

Metcalf — who is in line for a massive contract extension from Seattle — played through several issues last year, including a nagging foot injury, erratic quarterback play and consistent double-teams from the coverage. But he still produced 12 touchdowns on 75 catches, along with 967 yards. He is not considered an elite route-runner but has improved considerably since entering the league in 2019.

As one scout pointed out, Seattle seems to give Tyler Lockett more deep-ball opportunities, which seems backward. Lockett’s 14.8 air yards per target was more than two yards deeper than Metcalf’s 12.6 last season. But Metcalf also gets more double-team coverage, which plays a part.

To my surprise, Davante Adams is still numero uno and wasn’t unseated by Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp. There’s one ranker who had Kupp ranked at No. 5 and that just seems like trolling to even think that. I suspect (and it’s even in the article) a few believe that Kupp is aided by the Rams’ scheme, but there’s every reason to believe he’s just that gifted a receiving talent.

The two receivers immediately ahead of Metcalf were Deebo Samuel (No. 9) and Mike Evans (No. 8). Notable wideouts not in the top-10 include Terry McLaurin, the aforementioned Keenan Allen, A.J. Brown (a former Ole Miss teammate of Metcalf’s), and CeeDee Lamb. Other Seahawks star receiver Tyler Lockett, who’s been one of the most consistent and most underrated receivers in the league for years, did receive some top-10 votes but not enough to crack the rankings.

Tight ends and offensive tackles wrap up this series and other than the slim chance Noah Fant sneaks in, I think we can assume the only top-10 ranked Seahawks players in the 2022 edition of this list are Jamal Adams, Jordyn Brooks, and DK Metcalf... all at exactly 10th spot. They don’t do any rankings for special teams, otherwise Michael Dickson would be No. 1 for punters with no need to rank anyone else.