Maybe DK Metcalf needs to run routes better
Coming into the NFL in 2019, one of the questions DK Metcalf had about him was that teams weren’t sure how good his route tree was. Metcalf has proven he is a better route runner than most expected. A receiver could not have had the production that Metcalf has had so far in his career without knowing when to break off a route.
But could Metcalf help his limited offense out a bit more by being crisper in his routes? Sure. Metcalf is faster and bigger than teammate Tyler Lockett. But Lockett is consistently more productive than Metcalf. Is it because teams double-cover Metcalf and leave Lockett in one-on-one coverage? No. Lockett sees a lot of double-teams as well.
But Lockett is extremely great at making his routes sharp. He is basically Doug Baldwin-esque when it comes to keeping a defender at bay and creating open space by his route breaks. It is sometimes easier for smaller and quick receivers to break off routes but Metcalf also has the speed to do so.
Think of the targets Metcalf has had this year. Do you remember him being open very much at all? Lockett, meanwhile, had 9 catches on 11 targets against the 49ers, and in many of those he had created a couple of yards of space between him and his defender. Metcalf needs to be a bit more like Lockett and if he can be, he will pick up more first downs and keep drives alive if not exactly having as many splash plays as he wishes.