The entire cottage industry that now employs dozens of professional NFL Draft analysts was born from the efforts of one man, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.
When the original draftnik speaks, everybody listens. When his first rankings of the top 25 prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft was published Thursday, it was a massive boost to the profile of all the players mentioned, including one young Canadian.
Alabama receiver John Metchie III, a native of Brampton, Ontario, checks in at the 21st overall spot on Kiper’s list, the third overall receiver available. The respected analyst feels highly about Metchie’s pedigree and potential.
“Alabama has had a heck of a run on first-round wideouts, and Metchie could be next in line. Last season, he caught 55 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns for one of the best offenses in college football history,” Kiper wrote.
“He played both outside and in the slot and was tremendous with the ball in his hands, averaging 6.6 yards after the catch per reception. Metchie will get his chance to be Bama’s No. 1 receiver in 2021.”
Only Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Arkansas’ Treylon Burks ranked ahead of the Canadian at the receiver position.
Metchie began his true sophomore season as the Tide’s No. 3 wideout behind Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, both of whom were selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. His role expanded following Waddle’s season-ending injury, becoming the number two weapon to the eventual Heisman trophy winner Smith.
Alabama would go on to win the 2021 National Championship with a dominant 52-24 victory over Ohio State. Metchie caught eight passes in the game for 81 yards, becoming the first Canadian in 17 years to win a national title.
His accomplishments have made him the betting favourite for the Jon Cornish Trophy, awarded annually to the top Canadian player in the NCAA. The winner of the award will be unveiled on May 24th.
Metchie heads in to 2022 as the projected top pass catcher in revamped Alabama offence still loaded with talent. The receiver will need to declare for the Draft as an underclassman, but a solid season will have him firmly in first-round consideration.
A record-tying four Canadians were taken in the 2021 NFL Draft, led by Oregon safety Jevon Holland in the second round. The last Canadian-born athlete to be selected in the first round was New England Patriots receiver N’Keal Harry in 2019, but a Canadian trained player has not gone that high since Philadelphia drafted offensive lineman Danny Watkins in 2011.
Wherever he lands, Metchie won’t be alone in the professional ranks. Older brother Royce is the starting free safety for the Calgary Stampeders after being drafted in the third round of the 2018 CFL Draft.