Is DK Metcalf Megatron 2.0?
By: Noah Nichols
D.K. Metcalf certainly has earned all the praise and comparisons that are made about him and Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. Both are physical freaks of nature. In a good way. Both are huge, fast, and nearly impossible to cover. Metcalf has been in the NFL for two years and received Johnson comparisons within his first ten weeks of playing in the NFL. Metcalf is a physical anomaly and plays like it. Metcalf will do freak athlete stuff, like chasing down Budda Baker and preventing a would-be pick-six.
Has Metcalf earned the hype? Is he the next Calvin Johnson, the next “Megatron” of the NFL? For beginners, their combine numbers are startling close. Johnson ran a 4.35 40-yard dash. Metcalf ran a 4.33 40-yard dash. So Metcalf is actually faster in this regard. The difference is minimal, two-tenths of a second are not very noticeable, but it is still impressive to see Metcalf beat out Johnson.
Metcalf is 6″4. Johnson is 6″5. Both were better as straight-line, go-up-and-get-it type players. Because of their size, neither was the best route runner in the league. But as Johnson was arguably the best deep threat in the NFL during his time, so is Metcalf. Metcalf has also spoken out against the comparisons to Johnson.
“Stop comparing me to people. I’m me. Playing against me. Not anyone else. Calvin is Calvin. It’s a blessing to be compared to him. I take the compliment with a grain of salt. I’m trying to pave my own way.” Metcalf said this during an interview on the Rich Eisen show. Unfortunately for Metcalf, it’s not up to him whether he will stop being compared to Johnson.
The two are just way too similar to not be compared. So, will Metcalf be the next “Megatron” of the NFL? Here are three reasons why the answer to that is yes.
Johnson was arguably the most freaky player in the NFL during his time. There was no other receiver, cornerback, or another type of player like him. Similar to Derrick Henry, Johnson was the only player of his position with a body type like he had. Metcalf is the same way. The only other receiver in the NFL who is similar in body type is Chase Claypool. Claypool is another freak athlete and should be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in 2021.
But Metcalf is faster than Claypool and is thicker and stronger than Claypool. Going back to the combine numbers from earlier, it is easy to see that athletically, Metcalf is similar to Johnson. The difference in height is minimal, one more inch on a receiver that is above 6″3 does not make a big difference. Talent-wise, both players are very similar. This is the main reason that Metcalf will be the next “Megatron,” but there are two more reasons to back up this claim.
His QB is Russell Wilson
Perhaps the greatest deep ball quarterback of all time, Russell Wilson greatly increases Metcalf’s skills and talents. The two are almost perfect for each other. Wilson helps showcase what Metcalf is so good at, running past, and jumping over defenders to catch the ball. Wilson’s ability to run around and extend plays does help too.
Metcalf is a huge target for Wilson, someone that he can trust whenever things are breaking down around him. Thus, Metcalf receives more targets. Metcalf had 129 targets in 2020, thirty more than 2019. Wilson knows he has a freaky athlete on his team, so he uses him. This only helps Metcalf’s stock rise as the next “Megatron” of the NFL. Imagine if Metcalf was stuck in Jacksonville or something. There is no way that he would be dubbed the next “Megatron.” His quarterbacks would not be able to get him the ball for that nickname to appear.
The NFL era benefits the receiver
Simply put, this era of the NFL is built to help the wide receiver succeed. Receivers are given the benefit of the doubt on iffy pass interference calls. Receivers can be more physical, and while the NFL has created rules to punish receivers for pushing off, it rarely gets called. (Just ask Saints fans- *cough* Kyle Rudolph *cough*)
But seriously, Metcalf takes full advantage of these rules. He uses his frame, and the rules, to his advantage. He will lock cornerbacks out from the ball with one arm while going up to catch it with the other. At the last second, he brings his other arm up to bring in the ball. Did he need his second arm? Maybe not. With nearly ten-inch hands, he could probably catch the football with one hand. In the end though, Metcalf benefits from a period in the NFL where the rules are even laxer than they were during the time of Calvin Johnson. He has every chance to take up the Mantle as the next “Megatron.” The only thing that stands in his way is himself. (And perhaps, Jalen Ramsey, but that is a diffrent story.)