Is D.K. Metcalf Just a Stronger Stephen Hill? His Combine Results are Extreme

By Jason Lisk
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D.K. Metcalf took the NFL Combine by storm … well, in several events. The freakishly strong wide receiver looks like a tank. He then went out and ran a 4.33 40-yard dash, had a great vertical and broad jump, and had 27 bench press reps. But then, he performed poorly in the three-cone and shuttle drills, which test short area quickness.

How extreme were his results? I went through the Combine stats back to 2000, and there have been 116 wide receivers of roughly similar size, within 1 inch in height and 20 pounds in weight, who have tested there before this season. Here’s where he ranks compared to those historical results.

  • 2nd best in 40 time (Darrius Heyward-Bey, 4.30, 2009)
  • tied for 8th best vertical (Chris Conley, 45 inches, 2015)
  • tied for most bench press reps (Greg Little, 27, 2011)
  • 4th best broad jump (Chris Conley, 139, 2015)
  • 4th worst 3-cone drill time (all others in bottom five went undrafted)
  • 4th worst shuttle drill time (Marcus Easley, 4.60, 2010)

So, he was either in the top 10% of elite athleticism … or in the bottom 10%, depending on the drill. That really is something, and the question is how teams view that bizarre profile. People will point to DeAndre Hopkins (who is 6’1″ and not in this sample) as also running a 4.50 in the shuttle, but he’s very much the exception.

So to see who had a similar profile to Metcalf, I took that group of 116 players, calculated the standard deviation of results in each category, and came up with similarity scores. (Every standard deviation difference in each of the six categories was worth 50 points off).

Here were the most similar players at the Combine, and I color-coded their categories so you could see where they were similar and different. Dark Green means within 0.5 standard deviation of Metcalf’s result in that category. Light green is more than 0.5 but within 1.5 standard deviations. Blue is between 1.5 and 2.5 standard deviations, and Red is for categories where they were very dissimilar. These are the Top 12, or basically the most similar 10% of Combine participants of similar height and size.

His Combine results are very similar to Stephen Hill, except Metcalf is much stronger and Hill was better in the 3-cone drill (but then again, everyone was better in that drill). His Combine results also show a faster Jonathan Baldwin. Greg Little is similar because of the bench press and vertical, but Little was quicker in the short area drills. Chris Conley was an athletic freak at the Combine who was not as strong as Metcalf, but more explosive in some drills.

As for the Julio Jones comparisons, the biggest problem there is that Julio was way better in the short area quickness drills (but not as strong in the bench). Julio Jones was 6th in the 3-cone drill out of this group of 116, and average at the shuttle. Teams have to decide if that profile difference matters.

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