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ESPN: Xavier Legette drawing comparisons to DK Metcalf early in Panthers camp

Alex Weberby:Alex Weber05/12/24
Photo during a game of former South Carolina Gamecocks WR Xavier Legette

Wide receiver was a very popular position in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, as seven wideouts were selected among the first 32 picks this season.

Throughout the draft process, wide receiver became an obvious spot of strength in this cycle and the first night of the draft certainly reflected that, as three WRs went in the first 10 picks of the first round at No. 4, No. 6 and No. 9. Another receiver wouldn’t come off the board until the 23rd pick, but Brian Thomas’ selection to Jacksonville kicked off a run of four more wideouts to close out the round, with receivers being selected in three of the final five picks.

However, it was the seventh of seven wide receivers drafted in that first round where the Carolina Panthers believe they struck a bargain. With the 32nd pick, Carolina took big-bodied South Carolina wideout Xavier Legette following a tremendous 2023 season in Columbia. With a 6’1 and 220-pound frame, plus a blazing 4.31 40-yard dash time, he checks all of the boxes physically for a playmaker at the next level.

In fact, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler had a fairly lofty comparison for the former Gamecock based on his stature and athleticism, which he shared Sunday morning on SportsCenter.

“Yeah, late round guy that was very coveted around the draft. Here’s an interesting comp for you: DK Metcalf,” he said of Legette.

The Seahawk wideout is truly an athletic phenom who scored a 9.66 out of 10.0 in the NFL’s Relative Athletic Score, which uses the various NFL combine drills and measurements to produce a percentile grade on a player’s athletic profile. Well, Legette scored even better with a 9.92, the 24th highest mark among all draft-eligible wideouts since 1987.

That’s why the new Carolina coach sees the potential for a DK Metcalf type of trajectory for Legette in the pros.

“So Dave Canales, the head coach of Carolina, was a longtime Seattle assistant for Pete Carroll, coached Metcalf,” Fowler noted. Of course, Metcalf fell to the last pick of the second round during his draft year, and with Legette’s similar profile, that wasn’t going to happen again.

“Now, Legette might not have the same explosion according to scouts, athleticism, but same size and same game-breaking ability. You can use him all over the field,” Fowler said. “This is a guy that the Patriots and other teams were trying to get up into that late first round to get. So the Panthers feel very fortunate that they have potentially their No. 1 wide receiver down the road.”

Xavier Legette certainly has the physical tools — a rare combination of frame, speed and vertical leaping ability — that made Metcalf a matchup nightmare, and Dave Canales is banking on those traits to produce a star out wide once again.