Donte Moncrief: A Closer Look at the Ole Miss WR
By: Justin Partlow
During the 2013 season, Moncrief was seen as one of the more underrated WR’s in the class. That underrated level went out the door, when he went into Indianapolis and took over, proving that he could be a very good WR in the NFL. Moncrief isn’t by any means someone who is the next coming of Jerry Rice, but Moncrief is someone who will by all means be a very successful player for a long time. Below I’ll take a look at the different parts of Moncrief’s game, and what he can do to improve and continue to prove his potential
Donte Moncrief has everything you want in an outside WR. Standing at 6’2” 221 pounds, Moncrief looks the part of someone who can line up and play on the outside in the NFL. What has set Moncrief apart from what many had expected was his 40 time that he posted in Indianapolis. I had pegged Moncrief as someone who would run around a 4.55 or below, but Moncrief blew everyone away with a 4.40 time. Moncrief passes all the tests here in the measureables department, and he’s shown a commitment to refining his body, as he looks different from the end of the season and what he looked like in Indy.
There certainly is good and bad with Moncrief and how he runs his routes. I really enjoy how Moncrief works to set up his routes with cornerbacks, and usually tends to set them up well. In the Ole Miss system, Moncrief ran about 4-5 main routes, and would run variations based off of that. Moncrief ran a lot of bubble screens, post patterns and go/fly routes. On top of those he would run variations and it led to a lot of teams being able to key in on what he would run based on scheme tendencies. Moncrief though would do well setting up what could be the route instead of giving it away early on. Multiple times on film, Moncrief would fire off the ball as if he were to run a fly pattern, and quickly stop and set up the screen. It’s the little nuances that Moncrief shows, that allows him to project to being a more pro ready player than some expect.
While those are the good parts, Moncrief though needs to refine his route running. As mentioned earlier, the routes run by Moncrief weren’t the full route tree as seen in the NFL, but at the same time it shouldn’t be a full hindrance on his ability. We’ve seen many times now that players who aren’t running the full route tree are still able to produce and succeed in the NFL early on. Coaches will also need to work on Moncrief’s footwork in his route running as it looks like he has a little hitch sometimes in his cuts. If Moncrief works on these, he’ll prove his ability, but NFL teams will start to catch onto his flaws and be able to target based on that
Moncrief is a perfect example of someone who has that “basketball receiver” personality, as I like to think of it. Moncrief likes to box out his opponent on certain routes and prove his dominance over others. When it comes to his ability to catch the ball it does need some work, but at the same time he proves he can make the catches when they are thrown to him. The biggest issue I see with Moncrief is his body catching. Instead of catching the ball with his hands, Moncrief instead likes to let the ball into his chest and body catch it. While not the worst possible issue, it does lead to some of the precarious drops that he has during games, and the times where defensive backs are able to knock the ball away as he doesn’t attack the ball. Moncrief shows natural ability to make catches and his ability to run after the catch at his size is pretty impressive. Look for a team early on to use him as a #2 option and rely on him heavily in the red-zone, while they continue to work on his catching and route running refinement.
Moncrief is someone who you could tell almost seemed to be mentally checked out at times during the year, and I can’t blame him. Bo Wallace is a very spotty QB, and rarely throws the ball on time to receivers in the area it should be thrown to. On film towards the end of the year, it seemed as if Moncrief just had lost that fire that we had seen as times earlier in the year. While not something that you immediately freak out about, you also wonder if Moncrief is someone who will continually do this if his team is out of the hunt early on. By no means am I saying he quit, it’s just more so he didn’t have as much fire off the ball and had some uncharacteristic plays that I hadn’t seen on film.
Moncrief to me projects into the 3rd round range in the 2014 NFL Draft. With his very good size and speed combo combined with his natural ability to make the big time catch, Moncrief will be a valuable commodity to any offense. Moncrief would be rated higher, but his route running and body catching provide much to be left desired. Look for Moncrief to get plenty of playing time early on, but also will need work in order to reach the potential that is easily seen on film.