Alabama wide receiver John Metchie III (8) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in No. 3 Alabama’s 41-24 SEC championship win over top-ranked Georgia on Dec. 4. (File photo by The Associated Press)

Alabama wide receiver John Metchie III (8) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in No. 3 Alabama’s 41-24 SEC championship win over top-ranked Georgia on Dec. 4. (File photo by The Associated Press)

Jeremiah bullish on Metchie’s NFL prospects

A season-ending knee injury might’ve impacted John Metchie III’s NFL stock, but draft guru Daniel Jeremiah remains bullish on the Canadian receiver.

Metchie, 21, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in No. 3 Alabama’s 41-24 SEC championship win over top-ranked Georgia on Dec. 4. The resident of Brampton, Ont., could only watch as the Bulldogs avenged the loss by downing the Crimson Tide 33-18 on Jan. 11 to claim the U.S. college football title.

The six-foot, 195-pound Metchie finished his junior season as Alabama’s second-leading receiver with 96 catches for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns. Before his injury, Metchie had been projected by some draft analysts as a late first-round selection.

Jeremiah, a draft analyst with NFL Network, now figures Metchie will be taken either in the third or fourth rounds but believes the team selecting him will get an excellent return on its investment.

“Metchie is going to be a great value pick in this draft,” Jeremiah told reporters during a conference call Friday. “He is a ready-made slot.

“He is really, really a crisp route runner. He’s tough. He’s strong.”

The NFL draft will be held April 28-30 in Las Vegas. Jeremiah believes Metchie’s injury won’t hamper his on-field ability.

“The ACL injury is just a matter of where you take him, but I don’t think his game was really ever built on speed,” he said. “I wrote down in my comparison he reminded me of an Amari Rodgers-type player who went to the Packers because he can do a lot of different things.

“In terms of those whip routes they ask him to run, he’s outstanding at it. I would guess with the injury and a pretty deep receiver corps, he might — third, fourth round. Maybe he gets in the fourth round. It would be a heck of a pick for somebody.”

Falling out of the first round will definitely come at a financial cost.

Rodgers was selected in the third round, No. 85 overall, of last year’s draft by Green Bay. He signed a four-year deal worth US$4.9 million with a $923,560 signing bonus.

But running back Najee Harris, a teammate of Metchie’s at Alabama, signed a four-year contract worth $13.4 million with Pittsburgh after being selected late (No. 24 overall) in the first round. Harris’s deal included a $6.9-million signing bonus.

Metchie cracked Alabama’s starting lineup in 2020 and was part of a receiving corps that included Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, both ‘21 NFL first-round selections. Metchie registered 55 receptions for 916 yards and six TDs and helped the Crimson Tide capture the U.S. college football championship.

Metchie followed that up by claiming the Jon Cornish Trophy, which is presented annually to the top Canadian in NCAA football. He was eligible to remain at Alabama but declared for the NFL draft, finishing his collegiate career with 155 catches for 2,081 yards with 14 TDs.

Metchie’s older brother, Royce, is a CFL defensive back. He spent three seasons with the Calgary Stampeders (2018-19, ‘21) then had his rights dealt to Toronto on Feb. 4 before signing with the Argonauts shortly afterwards.

Metchie might not be the first Canadian taken in the ‘22 NFL draft. Jeremiah also projects Ottawa native Jesse Luketa, a linebacker at Penn State, as a third-round selection.

“He’s just a real versatile player,” Jeremiah said of Luketa. “You talk to some coaches around the league right now and kind of where everything is going, we’ve been talking about positionless players forever.

“He’s a different style when it comes to that in terms of what he can do. But he can do more than one thing, so his ability to play off the ball, his ability to rush off the edge.”

The six-foot-three, 247-pound Luketa spent his first seasons at Penn State playing linebacker but also lined up at defensive end in 2021. He recorded 61 tackles (8.5 for loss), half a sack, one interception and five quarterback hits.

Luketa impressed recently at the Senior Bowl and will strut his stuff at the ‘22 NFL combine, which begins this week in Indianapolis.

“I love the fact that the guy just plays with fantastic energy,” Jeremiah said. “He just is always bouncing around.

“He’s got a lot of juice. He’s got a lot of life. He’s got really, really violent hands when he takes on blocks. Some of the change of direction stuff and some of the stiffness, you’re just going to have to live with.”

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