Draft Daily: Spotlight on Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Auburn

If draft boards were formulated solely off measurables, Mississippi WR Donte Moncrief would be a no-brainer first-round pick.

At 6-2, 221, the early entry ran a 4.40 at the combine, third-fastest among wide receivers. His leaping ability is off-the-charts too:

So why isn’t Moncrief projected as a first-round pick? Largely because the measurables haven’t always transferred to the field.

Last season, Moncrief caught 59 balls for 938 yards and six touchdowns. In 2012, he had 66 receptions for 979 yards and 10 scores. Some questioned his decision to leave school a year early, but Moncrief provided a perfectly reasonable explanation.

“Well, my dad fell ill a year or two ago, so my mom was always paying the bills and working,” he told SB Nation. “So that was a big thing for me. And now that I have a seven-month-old daughter, I want to be able to take care of her. So those were the biggest two things about coming out.”

Aside from the measurables, Moncrief could be attractive to Chip Kelly and the Eagles for a number of reasons. Most notably, he played in a spread, no-huddle offense in college. Moncrief is familiar with getting play-calls from the sideline, lining up both inside and outside and the concept of packaged plays. He also showed a willingness to block – both in the run game and on screens to the perimeter.

But he still requires a bit of a projection. Moncrief showed flashes of great play-making ability during his college career, but he didn’t consistently use his size and speed to his advantage.

The other problem is Moncrief doesn’t have strong hands. When given the opportunity to make catches on 50/50 balls or passes in traffic, he often fails to do so. Take a look at these back-to-back plays against Missouri:

The first one would have been a difficult play, but still Moncrief had a chance. The second one should have been a touchdown.

Another example against Alabama. This should have absolutely been a big play, but again Moncrief’s inconsistent hands show up:

I’m not hand-picking isolated plays here. These were issues throughout the games I watched.

Having said that, Moncrief flashes glimpses of play-making ability. Here, against Auburn, he shows good ball skills, looking back towards the line of scrimmage, adjusting his body and making a downfield grab with a defender nearby:

There were questions about Moncrief’s speed before the combine. And again, the reason was it didn’t always show up on the field.

But here’s an example of that straight-line acceleration. Moncrief runs a pivot route, makes the catch, breaks a tackle and bursts upfield:

And here, he takes a screen to the end zone against Auburn, breaking a tackle and weaving through defenders:

As you can see, there is potential with Moncrief, but even though he played quite a bit in three seasons at Ole Miss, there is still a bit of rawness to his game.

Moncrief is young (doesn’t turn 21 until August). Projections have him slotted as a Day 2 pick. Some team will be attracted to the measurables and the flash plays and convince itself it can help Moncrief be more consistent at the NFL level.

We’ll find out in less than a month if that team is the Eagles.

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