Only a few days before the Seahawks took on the Vikings in Week 5, quarterback Russell Wilson made waves on social media with his latest statements on the greatness of receiver DK Metcalf.
“He’s the best in the world at what he does,” Wilson told reporters. “He’s continued to evolve into one of the best receivers in the game. Not to be shy about it, I think he is one of the top receivers in the game. He can do it all — he can run by you, he can jump over you, he can get physical with you - he just approaches the game the right way.”
While some may have scoffed at the notion Metcalf had already risen to the NFL's elite as Wilson proclaimed, the former Ole Miss star proved once again in a 27-26 win over Minnesota that he belongs in such a discussion. And if seeing him score two touchdowns - including a game winner - in prime time wasn't enough, statistics suggest he's more than worthy of the praise the quarterback bestowed upon him.
Quickly becoming one of the league's most dominant offensive weapons hauling in passes from an MVP front-runner in Wilson, Seattle has never had a receiver produce as Metcalf has to kick off a career.
Through his first 21 games, Metcalf has amassed 80 receptions for 1,396 yards and 12 touchdowns. While Joey Galloway holds the franchise record for receptions (82) and Daryl Turner holds the franchise record for touchdowns (17) through their first 21 games, the second-year receiver is the only player in Seattle history to produce 80 receptions, 1,300 receiving yards, and 10-plus touchdowns.
But Metcalf's unbelievable start isn't just confined to the Seahawks record books. As he continues to assault opposing secondaries with his rare blend of size, speed, and ball skills each and every Sunday, he's found elite company with one of the best starts by a receiver in NFL history.
Researching every receiver through their first 21 games dating back to the NFL/AFL merger in 1970 via Pro Football Reference, only 18 players have ever produced at least 75 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns, and at least 15 yards per reception. Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, and Julio Jones stand out as three illustrious names on this list.
Further narrowing the list by increasing the yardage requirement to 1,200 receiving yards and 16 yards per reception, only 11 players remain, including Metcalf. Using his current numbers as a baseline, he's one of just three players in NFL history with at least 80 receptions, 1,350 receiving yards, 12 receiving touchdowns, and a 17 yards per reception average in his first 21 games.
The only other two on the list? Moss, who produced an insane 20 receiving touchdowns in his first 21 games, and Charlie Brown, a former eighth-round pick for Washington who made two Pro Bowls to open his career.
Brown could be viewed as a cautionary tale in this instance, as his production dropped off tremendously after his first two seasons. But at 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, he lacked the size and physical tools Metcalf possesses and also played in an era where teams weren't throwing the football at the volume seen in today's NFL.
The 6-foot-4 Moss, on the other hand, offered plenty of similarities upon his arrival into the league. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at the 1998 NFL Scouting Combine, exhibiting the elite speed necessary to take the top off of defenses as a vertical threat. Like Metcalf, he also fell in the draft, though for far different reasons involving legitimate character concerns.
Nonetheless, Moss became an instant star for the Vikings, earning First-Team All-Pro honors as a rookie with 17 receiving touchdowns and nearly 1,400 yards. In his first six seasons, he averaged nearly 90 receptions, 1,400 receiving yards, and 13 receiving touchdowns, making five Pro Bowls and garnering All-Pro honors three times.
Catching 58 passes for 900 yards and scoring seven touchdowns, Metcalf's overall numbers as a rookie paled in comparison to Moss. But through five games this season, he's on pace for nearly 1,600 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns while averaging a league-high 22.5 yards per reception.
If Metcalf can come close to maintaining that pace for Seattle's final 11 games, he would not only shatter numerous single-season franchise records, but he would top most of Moss' numbers from his second season back in 1999.
The scary thing? At just 22 years old, the same age Moss was in his second season, Metcalf is far from a polished product. He has dropped three passes this year, he fumbled away a potential 64-yard touchdown, and though he's made significant strides as a route runner since being drafted, it's still an area he plans for continued improvement moving forward.
Whether you're watching film or dissecting stats, there's no question Metcalf has already arrived as a superstar. Wilson's compliments don't ring hollow - he's a unicorn at his position that creates a matchup nightmare no matter who opponents put on him in coverage with no ceiling to his potential in sight.
Keeping that in mind, with all due respect to the legendary Steve Largent, Galloway, Turner, or any other standout wideout who has worn a Seahawks uniform, as long as he stays healthy and remains motivated, Metcalf has the goods to be the best receiver in franchise history and hang his cleats up someday as one of best to ever play period.