Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines wide receiver John Metchie III’s technique for attacking and securing quick-hitting targets in close quarters and discovers that this talented 2022 NFL Draft prospect from Alabama has some work to do.
John Metchie is an NFL-caliber vertical threat with excellent ball-tracking skills with his back to the target. He displays late hands to attack the ball so he doesn’t tip off tight coverage and whether the pass is arriving over his shoulder or directly over his head, Metchie has the coordination to look the pass into his hands.
The vertical game is an area with a glossy appeal to fans and front-office types. It’s the dirty work of the quick game that usually supports a long career as a professional receiver.
Metchie has a lot of the desirable elements to become a reliable short-area receiver who can get open against tight coverage. An area that’s lacking consistency as he enters the 2021 college football season is attacking and securing targets.
It’s important to remember that what’s defined as consistent or “good” for the college game differs significantly for the NFL game. There may not be a huge difference in athletic ability when comparing the top athletes in the SEC with NFL athletes. However, when it comes to the technical and conceptual components of the game, it doesn’t matter if it’s Alabama or Alabama State because there’s a greater gap between college and pro players.
This clip of Metchie dropping a quick-hitting target against Georgia is as much about most college prospects that run a route as it is about Metchie because the target arrives in a location between the beltine and chest where the receiver could justifiably use overhand or underhand technique to secure it. The simple rule for applying these techniques is to use overhand with targets arriving at or above the numbers and to use underhand when at the beltline or below.
This simple rule may work for high school and college (don’t think, Meat, just play…) but professionals must become more granular in their thinking. In addition to the location of the target, they need to have an ingrained understanding of what technique to use (without thinking about it on the field) based on additional factors such as the route and the location of the coverage.
Although this target/coverage combination may be the only one of its kind (or more likely, a few) that Metchie encountered this year, it’s the type of situation that Metchie — and most pro prospects — must refine within his game to become a reliable pro in all phases of the passing game.
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