INDIANAPOLIS — Alabama receiver John Metchie found himself in a familiar position in Indianapolis on Wednesday, watching from the sideline.
Metchie is at the NFL Combine to meet with teams and undergo the physicals portion of the draft evaluation process.
But when it comes to competing, Metchie remains sidelined, just as he was on his previous trip to Indianapolis for the Crimson Tide’s College Football Playoff Championship Game against Georgia on Jan. 10, a 33-18 loss.
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Metchie, who led the Tide with 96 catches last season in addition to 1,142 yards, suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter of Alabama’s 41-24 win over the Bulldogs in the SEC title game in Atlanta.
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Metchie was the favorite third-down target of Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, and Georgia players said the Tide’s attack was such that UGA tried to do too much on defense.
“We were doing a lot of different things,” said Georgia safety Lewis Cine, who will also be at the NFL Combine this week. “We switched up a lot of different things for Bama that we didn’t do the whole season.”
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With Metchie out, the Bulldogs had a much more simple and effective plan in the teams’ rematch at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Young set SEC Championship Game records in the teams’ first meeting last season, 26-of-44 passing for 421 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.
But when the teams met again in Indianapolis, Young was 35-of-57 passing for 369 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions.
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NFL media wanted to know on Wednesday, could things have been different in the CFP Championship Game for Alabama against Georgia had Metchie been healthy and Jameson Williams not been injured in the title tilt?
“I definitely think if we were healthy for that game, things could be different, of course,” Metchie said. “It was tough seeing (Williams) go down, especially having just gone through it myself.”
Alabama figures to reload at the receiver position with Metchie and Williams moving on, already adding former Georgia receiver Jermaine Burton to the mix for next season.
Metchie and Williams, meanwhile, will likely see their NFL draft stock take a hit with their injuries keeping them sidelined until at least this summer. Metchie said he expects to be cleared in June.
Alabama is riding a hot streak of producing first-round NFL picks at the receiver position under Nick Saban, including:
2021: DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle
2020: Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs lll
2018: Calvin Ridley
2015: Amari Cooper
2011: Julio Jones
“What doesn’t make Alabama attractive to receivers?” Metchie said, asked how Alabama keeps recruiting and developing the best receivers in college football.
“I feel like if you watch Alabama football in the last few years as a receiver and as a football player what doesn’t look attractive about it?”
“You’re playing with the best, you compete with the best, you have the best head coach and you win a lot of games. I don’t see how you could go wrong there.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart is working to make a case for the Bulldogs to become the most elite program in the SEC and top developer of talent.
Georgia leads the nation with 14 players at this year’s NFL Combine, and the Bulldogs are likely on the brink of setting a school record for most players picked in one draft.
But if Georgia is going to continue to win titles, Metchie is not convinced Smart can continue to do it with a dominant defense, as he did last season.
“I don’t think any defense could take over when it comes to Alabama football, but I think there could be really good defenses out there,” Metchie said. “The game is different, offenses are different.
“The plays and the schemes and the quarterbacks are different, they are able to do different things with the ball and have a bigger arm. I think the game is a little different.”