We’re not breaking any new ground by calling the NFL draft an inexact science.
But NFL teams should be cautious in picking any of these five players in the first round Thursday given what could be fatal flaws in their skill sets.
WR D.K. METCALF, OLE MISS
Metcalf is massive and fast at 6-foot-3, 228 pounds with a 4.33-second 40-yard dash. But there are understandable concerns about his agility and route-running ability.
Metcalf ran a 7.38-second 3-cone drill at the NFL Scouting Combine. Since 2000, only three wide receivers ran a 3-cone in 7.3 seconds or slower and went on to have successful careers: Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin and Chad Johnson. There are 48 more examples who didn’t.
Metcalf ran a 4.5-second short shuttle at the combine. Only 43 wide receivers have run the short shuttle slower than 4.45 seconds at the combine since 2000. Only DeAndre Hopkins, Robert Woods, Kenny Britt and Allen Hurns have gone on to have successful careers.
It’s also a little concerning Metcalf was Ole Miss’ third-leading receiver in 2018 behind A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge.
DT DEXTER LAWRENCE, CLEMSON
Lawrence is 6-foot-4, 338 pounds and ran a 5.05-second 40-yard dash. But we still question his ability to play on all three downs and wonder if a two-down player is worthy of a first-round pick. Lawrence will have to be Kenny Clark, not Danny Shelton, Malcom Brown or Vernon Butler, to justify the use of a first-round pick. Lawrence’s athleticism is intriguing, however, so it’s entirely possible he’ll buck the trend.
QB KYLER MURRAY, OKLAHOMA
He’s a 5-foot-10 quarterback who might go No. 1 overall. There’s some risk involved there. We like Murray and believe he can be Russell Wilson in the NFL, but there’s a reason quarterbacks tend to be 6-foot-3 or taller.
DE RASHAN GARY, MICHIGAN
Gary is widely considered a top-10 pick, and he’s a fantastic athlete at 6-foot-4, 276 pounds with a 4.58-second 40-yard dash. But he really didn’t produce much as a pass rusher in college. He ranked 36th in Pro Football Focus‘ pass-rush productivity metric last season, generating four sacks, six QB hits and 14 hurries on 173 pass-rush snaps. He was a quality run defender, so it’s possible Gary still will be a solid NFL player, but using a first-round pick on a player who might not be a big disruptor on third down is risky.
WR MARQUISE BROWN, OKLAHOMA
He’s 166 pounds. Since 2000, only nine wide receivers who weighed in under 170 pounds have been drafted, and none came off the board in the first round.
DeSean Jackson is far and away the best player on that list. The rest? Todd Pinkston, Roscoe Parrish, Jalen Saunders, Shaun McDonald, J.J. Nelson, Trindon Holliday, Tevin Reese and Aaron Lockett. Brown has to be Jackson to be worthy of a top selection.