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Scouting Report: Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi

Scouting Report: Donte Moncrief, WR, Mississippi

A very explosive athlete
By: Pete Davidson : March 24, 2014 4:23pm

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The last few days, as I poured over all of Donte Moncrief’s available film, my mind kept drifting back to a quote from Pete Carroll’s press conference at the Combine. “Big, fast guys are the fewest people around. Everybody would like to get longer, taller guys that run 4.4. But there are just not very many humans like that in the world.” True enough, coach.

Yes, big fast guys are rare. Very rare. So rare in fact that when you find one of the truly rare commodities, you are willing to look past certain flaws. In Moncrief’s case, the flaws almost all involve his hands or, more specifically, the lack of his hands. Moncrief is what we, and a lot of other evaluators would call a body-catcher. He has a disposition to use his frame when catching the ball, and while he’s often pretty good at it, it creates some problems. It causes a shrinking of the effective catch radius and in some ways will limit where the quarterback is comfortable throwing the ball. Then again, Moncrief does show an ability to use his hands when needed, such as on higher passes.

This is a bit of a vexing player from an evaluation standpoint, because his upside is at least equal to the risk that he fails to develop. And, continued development is crucial for this player. Receivers who consistently body-catch passes are giving multiple advantages to the defender. It makes the pass easier to defend and deflect from behind and it predictably lowers the target area for the quarterback--taking away a good deal of Moncrief’s size advantage in the process.

Proving his physical dominance was important for Moncrief at the Combine and he did just that. Let’s take a look at his Combine data.

  • Height - 6’2”
  • Weight - 221 lbs
  • Hands - 9 1/8”
  • 40 - 4.40
  • Bench - 13 reps
  • Vertical Jump - 39.5”
  • Broad Jump - 132”
  • 3-Cone - 7.02
  • 20 Shuttle - 4.30

Overall it was a very strong showing for Moncrief.  He also performed well in the drills and was able to catch the ball with his hands for the most part. Still, it’s a workout in gym clothes. His tape is a lot more important.

Let's take a look Moncrief’s strengths as we see them.

  • Height - He’s tall and that’s always a good thing, but he needs to develop his hands fully to maximize this advantage.
  • Size - 221 pounds gives Moncrief a size advantage on almost all cornerbacks.
  • Speed - As I mentioned, to run 4.40 at 221 is very impressive and meaningful.
  • Explosiveness - He’s got speed, but he’s also got explosiveness so he can get it going quickly. This is evidenced by his numbers in the Broad Jump and Vertical Jump.
  • Blocking - This could be a calling card for Moncrief if he improves his technique. He has the size advantage and agility to be a very good perimeter blocker at the next level.
  • Big play ability - When you add it all up, this is what you get. He’s bigger and faster than the athletes covering him and if he can shed his defender after the catch, he is a big problem for the defense. He has serious yards-after-the-catch potential.  He also has a knack for getting behind the defense.
  • Production - He started as a freshman and performed well, but the bulk of his production came in his sophomore and junior campaigns.

Here’s a sequence that defines Moncrief really well in terms of both his highs and his lows.

Here’s an example of how explosive Moncrief can be after the catch. (Arkansas)

Here, vs. Missouri, on the very first play, Moncrief’s predisposition to use his body to catch the ball is evident and problematic.

In the Missouri game we see just how much Moncrief’s problems can cost him in terms of missed opportunities. Step one for Moncrief is to build confidence in his hands and to use them more frequently. Then you hope for increased comfort and overall improvement. In the end, I think this is what will define Moncrief’s career. He could use some route refinement, but he can play as-is if he improves his hands. He could use a little more strength up top as well, but it’s not a huge flaw as long as he takes care of the hands.

If we assume no material improvement.  If Moncrief is going to be nothing more than what we see on film, he could still carve out a niche as a big play guy.  I say this because he does have a few established strengths.  He makes the deep over-the-shoulder catch consistently and he can take just about any reception to the house with his speed and burst.  He also has the size advantage.  There’s no question that Donte is a lot to handle once he has the football in his hands. As a complementary weapon in a strong offense, he could be very effective. Think about a player like Devery Henderson with the Saints but a lot more physical.

If Moncrief continues to improve, and stops body-catching the ball reflexively, he has a chance to be a serious threat at the next level and he could do it in a lead role. In the end, it will come down to how hard the player works and what kind of coaching he receives. I definitely want this player in dynasty leagues if I can get him because, as Pete Carroll says, big fast guys are the fewest people around.

What I am willing to pay will have a whole lot to do with what team drafts him in May.  My guess is that he gets taken in round three.

 

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