As more respect continues to be placed on DK Metcalf's name, the expectations surrounding his game will increase accordingly.
His imposing physical stature, combined with an impressive rookie season, quickly elevated the Seahawks receiver's status and evoked comparisons to a certain all-time receiver with his own bird-themed team mascot.
Ahead of the San Francisco 49ers' matchup against Seattle, Kyle Shanahan, one of 31 coaches that passed on DK in the draft a year ago, chimed in on the growing sentiment that Metcalf's game is looking more and more Julio Jones-esque with each passing week.
"As a rookie last year, he was unbelievable," Shanahan said of Metcalf earlier this week, via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. "He's only better this year. DK is just different than everyone. I mean, not everyone; the guy he reminds me of is Julio. The way he runs. The way his body is. The way he lowers his head and comes off the ball. His stride. His arm pump. His physicality.
"Julio is the top of everybody to me. And just to be able to be mentioned with him shows you the type of freak he is."
Jones' top receiver ranking is one shared by many, and makes even more sense considering Shanahan's experience with the former All-Pro. He served as the Falcons offensive coordinator in 2015 when Jones logged career highs in catches (136) and yards (1,871), and in 2016 when he posted a third consecutive season with at least 1,400 yards. He has five such campaigns in his career.
Week 8 will be the third time Shanahan gets an up close and personal look at Metcalf. On the year, he has accumulated 24 receptions for 519 yards and five touchdowns, and is close to eclipsing his 58-catch, 900-yard, seven-TD stat line in 2019.
After totaling 54/959/8 in 13 games his rookie year, Jones upped his numbers across the board in Year 2 and earned his first Pro Bowl selection. It would be an encouraging sign if Metcalf's second season ended in a similar fashion. But, even if it doesn't, the development he's shown this early in his career certainly increases his chances for future success.
"He's not there, yet," Shanahan said. "Julio has been doing it for a while, but there aren't many guys you can put in that category who have that physical type of gift that he has.
"And, also, just watching him play, he's picked up that mentality. He's tough. He goes hard every play. He blocks. He comes off the ball and never takes a play off. Reminds me a lot of Julio."
Could the still-growing Metcalf some day reach Jones' level? Only time will tell. But, in the short-term, Metcalf's priority this week will be to serve as a difference-maker in a Seahawks win, much like Jones was for the Falcons on Thursday night.