It’s easy to jump on Howie Roseman and the Eagles for drafting JJ Arcega-Whiteside instead of DK Metcalf, especially when Metcalf is torching their secondary in a playoff game like last season or sprinting the length of the field to stop a Cardinals player from scoring a touchdown this year. It was one of the great hustle plays on an interception return in recent memory.
But Metcalf wasn’t taken until the final pick of the second round in 2019, partly because his final season at Mississippi ended after seven games because of a neck injury.
A handful of teams, including the Eagles, had three picks before Metcalf went 64th. Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden, who appear to have the Raiders on the right track, passed on Metcalf four times. GruDog picked up three defensive starters and budding running back Josh Jacobs, instead. Not a bad haul.
Chicago’s first pick in 2019 wasn’t until No. 73, but the Bears could have traded up instead of taking mediocre running back David Montgomery.
Seattle, in fact, passed on Metcalf twice. They took defensive end L.J. Collier at No. 29 (he’s a rotational player) and safety Marquise Blair at No. 47 (showed promise as a rookie, but he was knocked out of this season in Week 2 with a knee injury).
The jury is out on the Eagles first-round selection in 2019, Andre Dillard (No. 22), who struggled as a rookie and then tore his biceps prior to this season. But they made the right pick with Miles Sanders at No. 53 before seemingly stumbling with JJAW at No. 57.
Metcalf has more career catches (10) in two games at Lincoln Financial Field than Arcega-Whiteside (9) has in 13. Ugh.
“It’s not just getting him covered,” Birds defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz correctly pointed out, “it’s tackling him. You have to defend every inch of the field with a guy like that.”
What’s also notable is that the Eagles and the rest of the league similarly missed on wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who went to Washington at No. 76. McLaurin (6-foot, 210 pounds) is not the behemoth that Metcalf (6-4, 229) is, but he’s played with a merry-go-round of quarterbacks for a mostly lousy offense. Yet McLaurin has more catches and receiving yards this year than anybody who came into the league in 2019.
At least give the Eagles credit for spotting Travis Fulgham, who was a sixth-round pick of the Lions last year. He’s already in the top 5 among guys picked No. 184 overall in career receptions, and he’s barely played half a season.
» READ MORE: Defenses catching up to Travis Fulgham
Still, it would have been nice to have Metcalf AND Fulgham AND Justin Jefferson. Especially when the guy who leads your team in catches this season, Greg Ward, was a quarterback in college and wasn’t drafted at all in 2017; and your projected top two wide receivers this season (DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery) are candidates to make first-team all-Milk Carton.
This year’s leaders, entering Sunday, among wide receivers who came into the NFL in 2019:
Receptions: Terry McLaurin, Washington, 69; Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh, 49; DK Metcalf, Seattle, 48; Darius Slayton, N.Y. Giants, 38; A.J. Brown, Tennessee, 36.
Receiving yards: McLaurin, 963; Metcalf, 862; Slayton, 584; A.J. Brown, 540; Johnson, 537.
Receiving TDs: Metcalf, 9; A.J. Brown, 7; Johnson 4, Travis Fulgham, Eagles, 4; Preston Williams, Miami, 4.
Yards per reception (min. 20 catches): Metcalf, 17.96; Mecole Hardman, Kansas City, 15.81; Slayton, 15.37; Scott Miller, Tampa Bay, 15.33; A.J. Brown, 15.00.