Steelers 2014 NFL Draft Player Profiles – Mississippi WR Donte Moncrief
Good friend Dave-Te’ Thomas of Scouting Services has finished his player profiles of several of the top 2014 NFL Draft prospects and over the course of the next few weeks I will be posting the ones that the Pittsburgh Steelers will more than likely have interest in. Being as Mississippi wide receiver Donte Moncrief was in for a pre draft visit recently, now is a good time to post his. Thomas has done these profiles for the NFL for several years and I know that many of you enjoy reading them.
DONTE RAKEEM MONCRIEF
University of Mississippi “Ole Miss” Rebels
Raleigh High School
While Moncrief did not have the junior campaign that he expected, the talented split end did capture the attention of his opponents on a weekly basis, as he was often double teamed. This allowed quarterback Bo Wallace to look for secondary targets like senior flanker Ja-Mes Logan and freshman sensation Laquon Treadwell, who occupied the slot receiver position, but is expected to take over Moncrief’s “X’ receiver duties next season.
Perhaps it was the emergence of a talented young receiving unit that might have been the reason Moncrief decided to leave school and enter the National Football League in 2014. More likely it was to take on a bigger challenge, for despite the elite defensive backfields in the Southeastern Conference, the Ole Miss split end has been a nightmare for any cornerback facing that incredible size/speed/strength mismatch that comes from covering #12 for sixty minutes each Saturday.
One look at game tape on Moncrief and you see a player with the big, strong-looking frame that has become increasingly popular in the NFL. Throw in his cat-like moves, blazing speed and outstanding leaping ability and you see what some scouts refer to as “the complete package.”
It is rare to see a player of Moncrief’s size explode off the line and instantly eat up the cushion. He is a definite threat stretching the field and he runs with the low pad level usually seen by only the smaller wide-outs. His big play ability is validated by the fact that thirteen of his last sixteen touchdown catches have been from distances of twenty yards or longer, including seven of at least fifty yards.
The big playmaker has also developed into a highly efficient cut blocker, utilizing his power much like a fullback or trap blocker when stalking second level defenders. He also demonstrates the loose hips and body control to sidestep and elude the jam at the line and precise cutting ability to create separation after the catch.
Moncrief also has great elevation going up for the ball in the crowd, combining good timing, superb leaping ability and a large wingspan (77 7/8 inches) to compete and win most just ball battles. At the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, his leaping skills were the talk of the wide receivers participating in the agility tests. His 39 ½-inch vertical jump was not only third-best of all receivers, but ranked tenth among the 335-players in attendance.
Further impressive the teams viewing the tests, Moncrief produced a broad jump of 11’-0”, the best for all receivers at the 2014 testing and the sixth-best for any receiver that attended a combine in the last decade. Just two other players among the entire group in Indianapolis in 2014 had a better performance in that test. With the time clock on him, Moncrief blazed to a 4.4-second timing in the 40-yard dash, third-best among the receivers and eighth-best at the 2014 affair.
Ole Miss recruiters knew what they wanted when they pursued Moncrief during his playing days at Raleigh High School, and they got it – the finest receiver in the state of Mississippi and an incredibly hard worker who would soon become the “face” of the Rebels football team.
At Raleigh High, Moncrief excelled in football, basketball and track. On the gridiron, he showed off his vast array of skills. During his senior season, the Super Prep and Prep Star All-American posted 21 catches for 441 yards and nine touchdowns. He also threw for 365 yards with two scores and gained 144 yards on twelve carries. On defense, he recorded 48 tackles with four stops behind the line of scrimmage and intercepted four passes. On special teams, he returned two punts for touchdowns.
Moncrief was rated the second-best player in the state by Super Prep and was listed seventh on the Clarion-Ledger’s Top 10 Most Wanted list, along with being a member of the paper’s Dandy Dozen squad. Rivals.com rated him the 17th-best receiver in the nation and third-best player in Mississippi. He closed out his career playing in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and the Bernard Blackwell Mississippi All-Star Classic as a senior. He was also named MVP of his basketball team and was a two-time Class 3A state champion in the long jump.
Moncrief wasted little time getting into the action at Ole Miss, as the Freshman All-American would start all but one of the thirty-seven games that he wore a Rebels uniform. The freshman split end led the team with 31 receptions for 454 yards (14.65 ypc), scoring four times in 2011. His receiving figures were not only tops on the team, but second-best for any freshman in the Southeastern Conference ranks that campaign.
Moncrief was named Sophomore All-American and All-SEC second-team as a sophomore. He again paced the Rebels and ranked fifth in the league with 979 yards receiving, the second-highest total in school history. His 66 receptions also paced the squad, placing fourth on the Rebels annual record chart. His ten touchdown catches tied the Ole Miss season record, with five of those six-pointers covering at least fifty yards.
Moncrief nursed a minor shoulder contusion that forced him to miss a few practices in 2013, but he still started every game. For the first time since he joined the program, he did not lead the team in receptions, finishing second with 59 grabs, which still rank fifth on the school annual record list. He did lead the team with 938 receiving yards, taking over the fourth spot in the team record book, and reached the end zone six times.
When Moncrief announced in early January that he was leaving school and entering the 2014 NFL Draft, it was not like he caught the coaches or teammates by surprise. Even before he arrived at fall camp for what would be his final season at Ole Miss, he indicated that the 2013 season could be his college “swan song.” Moncrief didn’t mince words when approached by the media at August camp about the possibility that he could be entering his final collegiate season.
“It’s in the back of my mind, kind of. But right now, the main thing is getting my team some wins, just staying healthy, just staying focused. It’s according to how the season goes,” he said. “If I feel like it’s a good time to come out, I’ll come out. If not, I’ll come back and be a Rebel and be ready to play another season.”
Moncrief had added some size in the offseason (6-3, 226 pounds) and figured to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in 2013 (fell 62 yards shy), given good health, in his second season working with quarterback Bo Wallace. Moncrief had spent the off-season working on improving his route-running to help develop a more complete skill set. While he did concede that a strong junior season might prompt an early declaration for the 2014 NFL Draft, he wasn’t without a measure of humility.
“Right now I don’t consider myself the best wide receiver in the SEC. There are a lot of things I can work on,” he said. “There are a lot of great receivers out there. You’ve got Amari Cooper from Alabama, (Mike) Evans of Texas A&M who is a big-bodied receiver, and Jordan Matthews who just makes big plays and makes the plays when his team needs it.”
On January 4th, 2014, Moncrief elected to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, the school announced. In his final game, he propelled Ole Miss to a 25-17 victory over Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl, setting up one touchdown drive with a 52-yard catch and finding the end zone himself with a 28-yarder, finishing with six receptions for 113 yards.
“After meeting with coach (Hugh) Freeze and looking at all available information, my family and I have decided that I will declare for the draft,” Moncrief said. “I appreciate all the support I have received over the last three years from the fans, my coaches and teammates. I have had an awesome experience at Ole Miss and plan to support Rebel Nation until I die. At this time, I have to do what is best for my family and I, and I am ready to pursue my dream of playing in the NFL.”
“I appreciate Donte’s hard work, commitment and leadership for our program,” Freeze said. “His outstanding play the last two seasons has been a big reason for the turnaround we have experienced and the two straight bowl victories. He is close to graduation, and I hope he reaches that goal. While we had hoped he might stay another year, we are excited about his future, and we look forward to seeing another
Moncrief started all but one of thirty-seven games at Mississippi, as the split end hauled in 156 passes for 2,371 yards (15.20 ypc) and twenty touchdowns … Also recorded four tackles (3 solos) … School Career-Record Results … Moncrief finished third in school history with 156 grabs, topped by Chris Collins (198; 2000-03) and Moncrief’s cousin, Shay Hodge (173; 2006-09) … That trio all starred at split end and are the only players in school history to record at least 150 receptions in a career … His 2,371 yards receiving placed behind Hodge (2,646) and Collins (2,621) on the Ole Miss career-record list … The only other Rebels to gain 2,000 yards receiving in a career are Willie Green (2,274; 1986-89), Grant Heard (2,029; 1996-2000) and J.R. Ambrose (2,012; 1984-87) … Moncrief also ranks third with twenty touchdown catches, surpassed by Chris Collins (24) and Shay Hodge (22) … School Season-Record Results … Moncrief ranks fourth on the season chart with 66 receptions in 2012 and placed fifth with 59 catches in 2013, giving way to Chris Collins (77 in 2003), Laquon Treadwell (72 in 2013) and Shay Hodge (70 in 2009) ahead of him on that list … Moncrief and Collins are the only Rebels to record at least fifty receptions in multiple seasons (Collins had 55 in 2002 and 54 in 2001) … Moncrief’s 979 yards receiving in 2012 are second and 938 yards in 2013 are fourth on the Ole Miss season list, as Shay Hodge posted 1,135 yards in 2009 and Chris Collins gained 949 in 2003 … That trio are the only Rebels to gain at least 900 yards receiving in a season and Moncrief is the only player to accomplish that feat twice … His ten touchdown receptions in 2012 tied the school record that was first set by Chris Collins in 2002 … School Game-Record Results … Moncrief gained 173 yards receiving vs. Mississippi State in 2012 to take the fourth spot on the school game-record chart behind Eddie Small (210 vs. Vanderbilt in 1993), Pat Coleman (200 vs. Arkansas State in 1989) and Floyd Franks (191 vs. Alabama in 1969) … Gained at least 100 yards receiving in nine games, two shy of the school record of eleven, held by Chris Collins (2000-03) … His five 100-yard performances in 2013 set a school annual record.
Moncrief earned All-American honorable mention and All-Southeastern second-team honors from The NFL Draft Report … Received National Wide Receiver of the Week honor-able mention from College Football Performance Awards vs. Auburn … Started all thirteen games at split end, as he ranked second on the team with 59 receptions, the fifth-best season total by a Rebels, leading the squad with 938 receiving yards, fourth-best on the school annual record chart … Averaged 15.90 yards per catch and registered six touch-down catches … Also recorded a pair of solo tackles … His reception total was seventh-best in the league and his receiving yardage production was fifth … Had at least five catches in eight contests … Set the school record for 100-yard receiving performances with five … Gained 56 yards on five grabs vs. Vanderbilt in the season opener and tallied 74 yards on two catches that included a 67-yard touchdown vs. Southeast Missouri … Added an 18-yard scoring grab vs. Texas and 60 yards on six snatches vs. Alabama … Made six more catches for 122 yards and touchdowns of 49 and 13 yards in the Auburn clash … Posted 107 yards behind five receptions vs. Louisiana State and 149 yards via seven catches that included a 52-yard touchdown vs. Arkansas … Gained 115 yards after pulling in six tosses vs. Missouri … Set up a touchdown drive with a 52-yard reception, along with scoring on a 28-yard grab to total 113 yards on six catches in a 25-17 decision over Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl.
Moncrief received All-Southeastern Conference second-team honors and was named to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List and to the College Football News Sophomore All-American second team…Started twelve games at split end, leading the team with a career-high 66 receptions, which ranked sixth in the conference, along with placing fourth in the school season-record book … Those catches generated 979 yards, second-best in a campaign by a Rebel, as his average of 75.31 yards receiving per game was fifth-best in the SEC … Tied the school season-record with ten touchdown catches … Also recorded a solo tackle … Converted eight third-down throws and one on fourth down among his 36 first-down grabs, as fifteen of his receptions were for twenty yards or longer…Had two drops on 102 passes targeted to him (caught 64.71%) … Opened the season with eight catches for 104 yards and a 53-yard touchdown vs. Arkansas and reached the end zone with a 55-yarder vs. Texas-El Paso … Hauled in seven balls for 144 yards and a 75-yard touchdown in the Texas clash … Scored for the fourth-straight game on a 23-yard grab vs. Tulane … Added 73 yards and a score on six catches vs. Texas A&M and snared eight balls for 60 yards vs. Arkansas … Made eight more catches for 74 yards vs. Vanderbilt and was on the receiving end of six passes for 161 yards and two scores, including a 56-yarder vs. Louisiana State … Followed with 173 yards on seven receptions, tying the school game-record with three touchdowns that included a career-long 77-yarder in a 41-24 defeat of Mississippi State in the season finale … Snatched six throws vs. Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
Moncrief was named Freshman All-American second-team by The NFL Draft Report and honorable mention by College Football News … Started all twelve games at split end, as the true freshman led the Rebels with 31 receptions for 454 yards (14.65 ypc) and four touch-downs … His average of 37.8 yards receiving per game ranked sixth among SEC fresh-men … Scored his first career touchdown on a 47-yard catch vs. Vanderbilt, followed by three grabs for 68 yards and a38-yard score vs. Georgia … Added a season-long 57-yard snatch vs. Fresno State and scored twice on five receptions for 73 yards vs. Arkansas … totaled 68 yards on four catches in the Kentucky contest.
Has never missed any games due to injuries, but was limited in several 2013 practices due to a minor shoulder contusion.
4.40 in the 40-yard dash … 1.54 10-yard dash … 2.57 20-yard dash … 4.30 20-yard shuttle … 7.02 three-cone drill … 39 ½-inch vertical jump … 11’-0” broad jump … Bench pressed 225 pounds 13 times … 32 3/8-inch arm length … 9 1/8-inch hands … 77 7/8-inch wingspan.
Moncrief attended Raleigh (Miss.) High School, playing football for head coach Durwood Anderson … During his senior season, the Super Prep and Prep Star All-American posted 21 catches for 441 yards and nine touchdowns. He also threw for 365 yards with two scores and gained 144 yards on twelve carries. On defense, he recorded 48 tackles with four stops behind the line of scrimmage and intercepted four passes. On special teams, he returned two punts for touchdowns … Rated the second-best player in the state by Super Prep and was listed seventh on the Clarion-Ledger’s Top 10 Most Wanted list, along with being a member of the paper’s Dandy Dozen squad … Rivals.com rated him the 17th-best receiver in the nation and third-best player in Mississippi … Closed out his career playing in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and the Bernard Blackwell Mississippi All-Star Classic as a senior … Named MVP of his basketball team and was a two-time Class 3A state champion in the long jump.
Moncrief is enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts … Son of Nineta and Spencer Moncrief … Cousin of former teammate, Mississippi wide receiver Shay Hodge … Born Donte Rakeem Moncrief on 8/06/93…Resides in Raleigh, Mississippi.