By Alex Kozora
Our focus has shifted to the offseason and for the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on several draft prospects. Some of these players the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at and others will be top players that will be off the board before they select. All to make you as prepared as possible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
With the need growing after the loss of Jerricho Cotchery, a look at wide receiver Donte Moncrief.
Donte Moncrief/WR Ole Miss: 6’2/3 221
– Long, lean frame
– Impressive triangle numbers (4.40 40 at Combine)
– Super smooth athlete and a long strider, glides around
– Tremendous leaper (39.5 vertical)
– Vertical threat
– Fluid hips, very little stiffness, in and out of his cuts quickly
– Playmaker and pretty dangerous in the open field
– Uses hands and size/burst to beat jams
– When committed, strong run blocker who can stick and drive DBs
– Relatively productive career
– Lots of starting experience
– Drops far too many passes
– Body catcher
– Too often tries to go for the one-handed, spectacular grab
– Doesn’t always play to his height
– Flat out quit on some plays, especially when play is extended
– Sometimes seems disinterested in run blocking, doesn’t give full effort
– Limited to mostly playing as the “X” receiver, outside the hashes
– 37 career starts
– 2013 Stat Line: 59/938/6
– Career: 156/2371/20
– Averaged 15.2 YPC in career
– Turns 21 in August
– 10 of 59 (17%) catches in 2013 went for 30+ yards
– Only caught 52.6% of targets in 2013 (59 of 112)
– 66% of receptions went for a first down
– Caught 19 of 34 passes on 3rd or 4th down (55.9%), converted 17 for a first down
– Cousin of Shay Hodge, who spent a short stint in the NFL with the 49ers and Redskins
– Top 25 WR in nation by Rivals and Scout coming out of high school
Before even putting on the tape, it’s hard to not be intrigued by Moncrief. A receiver at that size with that vertical who ran a 4.4 flat. In my “true heights” that will be unveiled in the coming weeks, Moncrief came in third of those who worked out at the Combine. That bested the likes of Kelvin Benjamin, Martavis Bryant, and Jordan Matthews.
On the tape, Moncrief provides just enough tantalizing plays to keep you watching.
Again, for his size, he’s as smooth in the open field and coming out of his breaks as you could hope for. Top of the screen, chop and break on this curl for the first.
Though he does fumble at the end of the play (recovered by Ole Miss) you can just see the type of athlete he is. Long strider who can change direction without losing speed.
Possesses the size, strength, and when he wants to, the desire, to be a powerful run blocker on the outside. Bottom of the screen on the following clip.
But oh man, is Moncrief inconsistent. And the issue really centers around his hands. Just so many drops. At least six drops in the four games I watched. Part of it is him being a body catcher and not getting his arms extended away from his body. Plays with a much smaller catch radius than he should.
Critical drop in the end zone down by 14 against Missouri. Just inexcusable.
And on this post against Alabama that would have gone for a huge gain. Poked away by the defensive back.
On a fade in the end zone.
This doesn’t even count the times he only high points the football with one hand instead of two. Tries to make the spectacular catch.
In the four I watched, I don’t recall him ever winning a jump ball. Concerning for a guy with that height and vertical. What I mean when I wrote he doesn’t play to his height.
Times where he doesn’t give effort. On this screen, once it turns into a scramble drill, Moncrief (top of the screen) just stands there and spectates. Doesn’t provide his QB any assistance. No effort in trying to get open.
Same after running this jerk route.
Keep in mind the stats provided in the “Other” category are all relative and I haven’t worked the numbers for most of the other receivers. Only category I have is the overall catch percentage. Of the 27 receivers I looked at, which included the top receivers, Moncrief’s 52% finished only ahead of Brandon Coleman.
It’s that inconsistency and what appears to be apathy that is holding Moncrief back. There’s no shortage of talent. While I haven’t taken a close look at the top of this class, Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, I’d wager from a pure ability perspective, Moncrief is right up there. Just don’t see it often enough.
Steelers’ obviously need a wide receiver and it’s unclear if Mike Evans will be available in the first round. Means they’ll likely have to wait until Round Two or Three where Moncrief will be available. Even being fully aware of that ceiling, I wouldn’t take him over a player like Jordan Matthews.
He’s an intriguing player but not worth the hype he’s getting from some Steelers’ fans.
Projection: Late 2nd
Games Watched: at Alabama, vs LSU, vs Missouri, vs Georgia Tech (Bowl)
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Stanford ILB Shayne Skov/a>
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Dakota State T Billy Turner
Boston College RB Andre Williams
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
Tennessee NT Daniel McCullers
Colorado State DE/OLB Shaquil Barrett
Alabama T Cyrus Kouandjio
Tennessee T Antonio Richardson
Central Florida RB Storm Johnson
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
West Virginia DE Will Clarke
Louisville S Calvin Pryor
Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
Virginia T Morgan Moses
Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt