Former Ole Miss Rebel Donte Moncrief was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the 3rd round of this year’s NFL Draft. He was the 90th overall pick and the 14th wide receiver off the board.
Moncrief had an excellent NFL combine. He showed off his freakish blend of size, speed and athleticism, causing some to speculate that he might end up a late first round or second round pick. Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant were a few of the NFL comparisons made regarding Moncrief at that time. That’s elite company for sure, but the comparisons aren’t unrealistic. Moncrief is a 221 pound receiver who stands a hair over 6 ‘2″ and boasts 4.40 speed. That is a tantalizing combination of size and speed and the reason for the lofty comparisons.
Still, talent alone doesn’t guarantee anything. So what can we expect from Moncrief as a rookie?
The Depth Chart
The Colts currently feature Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, and T.Y. Hilton as their starting trio of wide receivers. Moncrief should get every opportunity to beat out the likes of Da’Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill, and Griff Whalen before September. Still, as talented as this depth chart is, it seems likely that 2014 will be a year of grooming for the young receiver. Perhaps the most tenuous starter is Nicks–who is still only 26 years old and playing on a 1-year, 3.5 million “show-me” deal in 2014. He wasn’t a playmaker last season, but he won’t lack the motivation to prove his worth in 2014. In short, Moncrief faces an uphill battle for snaps in 2014.
Moncrief’s value will be directly tied to the health and production of the receivers ahead of him. Besides the steep learning curve that he will face in the NFL, Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton are formidable adversaries to his playing time and so is Hakeem Nicks if he can return to vintage form. The best case scenario for the Colts would be a healthy and productive season from their starting trio; this would allow Moncrief the time to hone his craft and to focus on learning to make full use of his impressive size–something he didn’t always do in college.
We only need to pay attention to Moncrief in redraft leagues if there is an injury ahead of him, or if Nicks proves that his poor 2013 was no aberration. Remember, there were periods of time when Andrew Luck made LaVon Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers hot commodities in 2013. Even Whalen was likely added in a few larger (PPR) format leagues. A good quarterback can turn almost any receiver into something fantasy-relevant. Donte Moncrief has more talent and pedigree than Brazill, Rogers, or Whalen. If he gets the opportunity for significant snaps, be ready to snatch him up quickly.
ADP and Outlook
Moncrief should go undrafted in redraft leagues this season. Of course, this could change with a stellar showing in the preseason. Even if he flashes his skills early on, he would still be buried on the depth chart and expecting significant numbers would be unwise.
It’s rookie drafts where you’ll have to pay a price. After Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, there are multiple directions one could go at the receiver position. I would contend that based on physical attributes alone, Moncrief has as high a ceiling as any receiver in the 2014 draft. He is a physical freak who didn’t need to use his size in college–he simply relied on his speed. If he can learn to use his height and his big body to his advantage in the NFL, he may very well take over for Reggie Wayne in the not so distant future. Don’t forget that Wayne turns 36 this year and is coming off an ACL tear. Moncrief has the talent to be a quality possession receiver in the NFL, one with deceptive speed to boot. He merely needs to master his craft… and who better to learn from than Wayne?
Given his talent and team context, Moncrief shouldn’t make it out of the 2nd round of any rookie draft in 2014. He’s a fantastic guy to stash away until the time is right to…