Pete Carroll: “It’s almost like, what doesn’t excite you” about Seahawks rookie WR D.K. Metcalf
Maybe he really is Hercules in cleats.
If D.K. Metcalf is as good a football player as he was an impressive physical specimen on his first day as a Seahawks, he’s on his way to the Hall of Fame.
OK, it’s May. It’s day one of a no-pads, rookie minicamp in which the Seahawks weren’t even wearing pads, let alone hitting. The real games are still four months away.
But hyperbole was all the rage Friday at Seahawks headquarters.
Metcalf looked absolutely as advertised on his first day on an NFL field. His presence dominated that of Seattle’s other 10 draft choices, 12 undrafted rookie free agents the team signed officially Friday morning and the 44 tryout players on the practice field Friday afternoon.
Metcalf was every bit the 6-feet-3 1/2 inches and 229 pounds the Seahawks listed him as when they traded up to select him in the second round of last week’s draft. Actually, the blue hoodie he wore under his matching, navy-blue Seahawks No. 14 jersey made him look even bigger.
Plus, the 21-year-old man-child who runs 40 yards in 4.33 seconds looked that fast. He moved his feet more quickly and effortlessly in and out of breaks than a man his size should be able to.
Then again, he did have the fastest 10-yard split time in the 40-yard dash at the league’s annual scouting combine in Indianapolis this winter.
Metcalf on Friday exceeded the first-glance expectations of the man who’s opinion matters most.
Always-sunny Pete Carroll was downright beaming along with the lakeside sun. He raved more about Metcalf than he has about perhaps any other rookie on his first day over the coach’s 10 seasons running the Seahawks.
Asked seconds into his post-practice press conference what excites him the most about Metcalf, Carroll paused, looked and said: “It’s almost like what doesn’t, you know?
“He’s big and he’s fast. He’s got really good feet, you know. His catching range was exhibited today, for a start. We’ve just got to figure it out, where it is.
“Maybe (he’s) even more unique than we thought coming in.”
Metcalf was the first “X” receiver out wide on the line when the offense scrimmaged against the defense. He was the first wide receiver in position drills, working his footwork in getting off the line and into his route.
His speed, mammoth size and extra-large reputation from becoming an internet phenomenon during the pre-draft process all preceded him onto his first NFL field.
At one point during Friday’s drills, rookie tryout cornerback Dejuan Neal—who gives up four inches and 40 pounds to Metcalf—lined up man to man directly across the line from him. Neal was so concerned about getting burned deep by Metcalf he turned his shoulders left, began running back toward his own goal line and went from head up to 4 yards in front of Metcalf. And that all happened before the ball was even snapped.
Metcalf still beat the bailing cornerback, plus the safety, on a deep post route. He blew by them like they were fence posts, splitting both of them 50 yards down the field.
“You know, sometimes the bigger guys, the feet just don’t move as quick. His feet were really, really lightning quick and it showed it out here today already,” Carroll said. “So that means that the potential is there to make him an excellent releaser. He’s already going to be really strong and using his hands, getting off the ball.
“But to have that combination, when we get a chance to tie it all together, it should be a really good package.”
Carroll was asked if Metcalf is his prototypical “X” receiver on the line that Carroll loves but hasn’t had consistently with Seattle.
More gushing ensued.
“You know, there’s never been a guy that ran any faster that was that big and strong at the combine,” Carroll said.
“Now he’s got to go fight and figure out how to play football now.”
Metcalf said last weekend in the minutes after the Seahawks drafted him: “My life has changed by people noticing what I’ve been able to do with my body. It’s time for me to show what I can do as a football player.”
He heard the critiques he was just a workout wonder, not NFL-quality in his route running or technique such as footwork and shoulder turns coming in and out of his route breaks. So this winter into spring, after a neck injury shortened his final college season at Mississippi, he prepared for the NFL by working with 74-year-old Jerry Sullivan, considering a guru on the craft of being a professional wide receiver.
After the first day with Metcalf, Carroll loves the results.
“He’s been coached up well,” Carroll said. “He had a tremendous offseason, working with Jerry Sullivan, one of the great receiver coaches in the history of the NFL.
“I’m not taking anything away from where he was. I just know what we are seeing right now. We are seeing a guy who has worked really hard at it. Getting down, getting in and out of his breaks and stuff.
“It looks like he is ready to compete.”
Fourth-round pick Ugo Amadi has known Metcalf since they competed against each other in summer camps in high school, back when Amadi was about to commit to Ole Miss; the safety eventually signed with Oregon.
Amadi had this assessment of Metcalf: “Guy’s a freak.”
The Seahawks have an immediate need for big, fast wide receivers.
Doug Baldwin was in the Seahawks’ training room Friday still trying to rehabilitate from three offseason surgeries, to his neck, shoulder and abdomen. Carroll said he talked to the longest-tenured player on the offense and Russell Wilson’s top passing target for the last half-dozen years.
“He’s working to get right,” Carroll said. “It’s a big challenge. He’s got a lot to overcome.”
Last week Carroll and general manager John Schneider said Baldwin has told them he is considering retirement at age 30. All signs continue to point that way.
Seattle’s wide receivers beyond Baldwin: Tyler Lockett. And a bunch of guys.
That’s why Seattle drafted three wide receivers for the first time since 1981.
Gary Jennings, the team’s fourth-round pick from West Virginia who is also big at 6-1 and 216, watched practice with seventh-round choice John Ursua from Hawaii. They have hamstring issues. Carroll said the 5-9 Ursua, a slot receiver who led major college football with 16 touchdown catches last season, could be back any day but Jennings will be out “a couple weeks.”
The Seahawks have another wide receiver even bigger than Metcalf in this minicamp: undrafted free agent Jazz Ferguson. He’s listed at 6-5 (Carroll said he is really 6-4) and 228 pounds.
But Ferguson looked and ran like a tight end Friday. Carroll said the standout at lower-division Northwestern State in Louisiana after failing grades and a drug test at LSU weighs more than 240 right now.
The difference in smoothness and nuance with which Metcalf ran and Ferguson did?
It’s the difference between a second-round pick an NFL playoff team traded up to get and an undrafted rookie free agent.
“He came in at 240, you know. He’s played when his weight was 227 during some of the season. So he’s a little bit bigger right now,” Carroll said of Ferguson, the offensive player of the year in the Southland Conference last year. “I’ve watched a lot of Jazz to see him do the stuff that a big man does. He plays very well at the sidelines and very good body control, a good physical presence going up for the ball, can make that the high catches and can catch the ball back shoulder type stuff. Physical catcher and he’s run well with the ball after the catch. And it’s all over his film. You know, the fact that he was a transfer student, you know, weighed into all this.
“But we’re lucky to have him out here competing cause he is legitimately a big style receiver that could play on the X side over there.”
If first impressions count for much, he will not be in front of Metcalf.
Team signs 12 undrafted free agents
Before practice the team made official the badly kept secret of which undrafted rookie free agents they had signed this week.
Besides Ferguson, who announced his contract on Twitter last weekend, the Seahawks signed quarterback Taryn Christion from South Dakota State, cornerback Derrek Thomas from Baylor, wide receiver Terry Wright from Purdue, cornerback Davante Davis of Texas, running back Adam Choice from Clemson, stong safety Jalen Harvey of Arizona State, defensive tackle Jay-Tee Tiuli from Eastern Washington, guard Demetrius Knox from Ohio State, defensive tackle Bryan Mone from Michigan, tight end Mik’Qwan Deane from Western Kentucky and tight end Justin Johnson from Mississippi State.