It’s hard to have a bad time in Nashville. The hundreds of thousands of people who sardined themselves onto Broadway celebrated the 2019 NFL Draft to the fullest. The crowd roared each time a name was called by Roger Goodell.
Each first-round pick emerged with a fresh ball cap of their new team and was greeted with a pronounced man hug from the commissioner. But behind the elation on stage was an anxious DK Metcalf, waiting, hoping he’d soon get to leave the call to green room and celebrate like the others.
But that call never came and Night 1 of the draft ended with Metcalf’s name still on the board.
He and his father, Terrence, drove home to Oxford, Miss., that night.
“He didn’t want to stay in Nashville,” Terrence told NBC Sports Northwest.
DK didn’t say much of anything during the four-hour drive.
“Nah,” Terrence paused and smiled, “we didn’t talk much. There was lot going on in his head.
“I knew he was upset. I knew he was thinking about what happened, what caused it to happen. He felt like his performance at the Combine was enough.”
Metcalf was a polarizing prospect. He had limited production at Ole Miss with just 1,228 yards and 14 touchdowns over three seasons. His injury history, notably a broken neck suffered in 2018, also likely scared some teams away.
But Metcalf was medically cleared for the NFL Combine, and he put up dizzying numbers: a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, a 40.5-inch vertical leap, a 134-inch broad jump and 27 reps on the bench press. And yet, some evaluators couldn’t get over his 7.38-second three-cone drill.
“All he could hear about was the three-cone drill,” Terrence said.
DK ultimately tumbled to the end of the second round and pick No. 64 before the Seahawks selected him. He had to endure seeing eight receivers taken ahead of him. In a league looking for prototypes, it was baffling to see the entire league pass on the 6-foot-4, 228-pound specimen twice.
“As a person, I knew he would work his tail off,” Terrence said. “As a student of the game, I knew he was going to work hard. As a teammate, I knew he’d fit in anybody’s locker room.
“I’m not saying (the three-cone drill is) obsolete, but it doesn’t determine everybody’s end goal as an athlete. So many people put so much on his three-cone drill.”
When the excruciating wait mercifully ended, Terrence reminded his son to keep perspective.
“You’ve made the group,” he told DK. “Your name got called so you made the group. Now it’s up to you what you do once you get in there.”
We now know, of course, that Metcalf’s fall in the draft was one of the biggest league-wide blunders in recent memory. In just his second season, Metcalf is on pace to put up. 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns, numbers that would mark the most prolific season for a receiver in Seahawks franchise history and likely earn him All-Pro honors.
But Terrence knows those numbers haven’t come without an immense work ethic and drive to be great. He shared that DK regularly gets up at 6:30 a.m. on his off days to work out with Bobby Wagner. DK’s offseason training with Russell Wilson has also been well-documented.
That’s what Terrence is most proud of.
“I’ll be honest with you, man, just the way he approaches the game. He’s a pro,” Terrence said. “A lot of guys go to the NFL, and they’re comfortable with being in the NFL. … He accepts the accolades, but he doesn’t glorify himself in the accolades. He shows it in his humility and the way he carries himself.”
Terrence said he and DK don’t even discuss the draft anymore. There’s no need to because the Metcalf family believes everything happens for a reason, even if it didn’t feel that way on that four-hour drive back to Oxford.