Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief arguably has as much raw talent and athleticism as anyone in the SEC. A program that has had trouble finding consistency, much of which has derived from the quarterback position has given Moncrief opportunities to showcase how good he can be with moments of brilliance. There are also different situations where Moncrief looked like he was having trouble staying engaged and focused with the ball not coming his way and losing.
For the NFL, Moncrief is largely an impressive triangle numbers prospect with a good amount of upside going forward. In certain areas of his game, he is raw and has some habits he needs to eliminate while in others, he is impressive and shows game changing ability. Moncrief has the potential to be a star in the right situation, but because of wildly inconsistent results on tape not only with results but his effort makes it so teams will really need to find out how important the game is to him. Without having that information, Moncrief has some boom or bust to him with the potential to be a star in the right situation. Teams could fall in love with Moncrief’s athleticism and take him on day two of the draft while others may not even have him on their board. The risk and reward probably meet somewhere early on day three, but Moncrief is a wildcard in this year’s draft without knowing what makes him tick.
Vitals & Build
Moncrief is listed at 6’2” 221lbs with a hand size of 9 1/8” and an arm length of 32 3/8”. He has shown a great deal of strength and functional power. Moncrief has speed to burn and his first step explosion really stands out on tape. His feet and body control are good. He looks the part of an NFL receiver and anything else he adds at this point is simply an added bonus.
Route Running & Technique
Moncrief’s stance is incredibly inconsistent. The majority of the time he not only comes out with an ugly bounce but actually hops into running his route. This is sloppy and makes him come out of his stance far more slowly with little if any sense of urgency, which is a shame because he has tremendous explosion with his first step. There are times when he will do it correctly and efficiently, coming out of his stance with all of his momentum going forward and it looks much smoother and makes him look extremely fast.
Against press, Moncrief is more effective out of his stance because it forces him to be smarter and more efficient to win. He comes out of his stance more consistently for the most part, but will take some false steps that can be eliminated or at least reduced. The adjustment he needs to make in press is getting his arms up and using them to create separation. Moncrief does a good job of using his strength to allow him to stay close to his line and get back to it quickly, but better use of hands to keep defenders out of his body will only make it easier.
When it comes to running routes, Moncrief has some great qualities but a few issues to clean up and improve. Ole Miss does not have Moncrief run an extensive route tree and has him run go routes, posts, comebacks, and bubble screens for the most part. To his credit, he has done a great deal of work in the intricacies with which he runs these routes, enabling him to create separation and get open to make plays; wide open at times where he can lose the defensive back entirely.
Moncrief is not running the route, but playing the man, which is the goal. He is not concerned with what the route is asking him to do because he knows how to run the route. Instead, Moncrief is working on how to beat the guy in front of him. Moncrief will run the same route with a number of variations which can cause his opponents a ton of headaches on adjusting to what he wants to do.
Moncrief can do a fantastic job of selling routes and making defensive backs really take his fakes seriously and forcing them to stay accountable to almost everything he does. The best example where Moncrief really excels is his post route. He does a tremendous job of running straight at the defensive back and even when they are backed off in coverage, Moncrief is able to eat up yardage quickly and force the cornerback to make a decision on which way to open his hips. Moncrief shows great explosion and can come out of his cuts with great speed, able to create a ton of separation.
His footwork is clean enough, his cuts are sharp enough, and his speed scares opponents so much that he can create a ton of separation doing it. He needs to avoid getting too busy at times and performing three and four fakes which just take forever and the quarterback has either gotten rid of the ball elsewhere or had to pull it down and run with it before he is done.
One area where Moncrief has shown to be quite good is turning into a defensive back when the situation calls for it. Not only can Moncrief make the play to avoid giving up the interception, but he has shown examples where he does it with great technique for a defensive back. This is a tremendous quality to have as it makes the quarterback more comfortable and willing to take risks to throw the ball up if their receiver is going to do everything they can to go up and make plays as well as protecting him if he makes a bad throw.
The route tree he ran was relatively small, but he is running NFL routes and he is able to run them extremely well for the most part. If he can correct his stance and release off the ball, they will only get more effective and make him play that much faster. One other issue he needs to improve is what happens when the play breaks down. There are examples of plays where Moncrief has determined the play is over at least for him and will just stop playing. Instead, he should be working back over to the middle of the field and finding a hole in the coverage to his quarterback a player to throw the ball.
Moncrief shows strong hands the ability to snatch the ball out of the air cleanly. His ability to locate and concentrate on the ball in traffic, with bodies flashing in front of him, or through contact is impressive. He also does a tremendous job of tracking the ball when it is going deep. At times, he will revert to using his body to make catches when he should be using his hands and he is open. The times he uses his body to secure catches when he is either fighting through contact or going to absorb a hit are not a big issue, but hands would be preferable. Moncrief seems to be gaining confidence almost by the catch in what he can do on the field and the plays he can make. Occasionally, he will drop the ball as a result of a lapse in concentration and trying to run before he has secured the catch, but this should improve with experience and game reps.
Moncrief’s catch radius is above average but still improving. There are times when he needs to extend his body and reach out and make catches but he seems reluctant. He is perfectly comfortable jumping to make catches and occasionally will do it when he should not to use his body to protect himself and it also works to stead the ball in midair. Moncrief is not afraid to go across the middle and make catches and will make an effort on passes his quarterback places badly when it could get him killed going across the middle. He does need to work on his awareness to where the sideline is so he can adjust accordingly.
Not only does he have the ability to make catches on awkwardly located passes, but he has tremendous body control to this point, which is something else that should only continue to improve with time. There are some catches where it is impressive he does not fall down and is able to keep his feet and continue running and make a big play even bigger with the potential to score.
Run After Catch
Moncrief is a terrifying player in space if he has a lane. He does a good job of transitioning from pass catcher to run after the catch, which could continue to improve, but his acceleration makes him incredibly dangerous. Moncrief opts to keep going north and south with the football rather than stopping and starting or going laterally. He has the strength and power to run through arm tackles and the balance to avoid getting tripped up on too many cheap tackles. If he has a lane, he has the acceleration to get up to his top speed in a few steps and when he is at his top speed, good luck to anyone trying to catch him. Moncrief has big time speed and is always a danger to score the football when he is able to catch the ball on the move. He can pick up some yardage on bubble screens but is not terribly comfortable in space as far as jump cuts and making guys miss in small spaces. Rather, he is far more comfortable on the move and just using his speed and momentum to make defenders adjust to what he is doing.
An area of inconsistency for Moncrief, he will flash effort and make some great blocks at times. There are other areas where he gives less than stellar effort and has to put in more effort to make blocks on the second effort, which ends up being counterintuitive.
When interested and putting in the effort, Moncrief will get himself in good position, maintain position between the ball carrier and defender and seek to push the defender out of bounds. In these situations, the only adjustment he should make is how he comes off the line. He should come off the line the same way every time to make the defense not know what the play is going to be, enabling him to keep the defense guessing and create opportunities for himself and his teammates. Unfortunately, he will sort of jog off the line of scrimmage and ease into getting in position rather than coming off the line like he might be running a route. The result is Moncrief is giving away the play.
In other situations where Moncrief comes off the line in a lackadaisical manner, he will appear to try to take the play off to maintain his energy. Often times the defender will take advantage and get by Moncrief, which then forces Moncrief to make up for it by fighting harder than he would have if he simply executed the block the right way the first time. Amazingly, Moncrief has a number of examples where he can get away with it, run down the defender and make an effective makeup block for the ball carrier. He would be much better off if he simply approached every block with great effort and take away the will of his opponent, forcing them to give up and quit.
The third situation is where Moncrief will go above and beyond and really impress with his effort. At times, Moncrief is called upon to run defensive backs off or sell a bubble screen in order to freeze defenders and open up opportunities for runners. Moncrief will do his job, read where the play is going, and then go find someone and make an impact block that can open up bigger plays. Not only does he have the ability to do the job of getting in the way but he can drive opponents off the ball and get pancake blocks. It all comes down to effort with Moncrief and being consistent, but he can as good as he wants to be in this area. The fact that he can do it and simply does not at times can be incredibly frustrating.
Moncrief’s best fit is in a vertical offense that wants to go down the field. Not only does he have the speed and explosion to be a threat down the field, he tracks the ball and can adjust to it on deep passes as well. He is much more effective when he can catch and run as opposed to stopping and making a play after the catch. His bread and butter to this point is using the go and post routes to back off defensive backs to open up comebacks and dig routes before sucking them in and then just beating with raw speed down the sideline or in the middle of the field. Offensive schemes like the ones run in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Kansas City would be a good fit for him, keeping him on the outside and letting torture defenders out there.
Moncrief could fit into a horizontal passing that has him catch passes like slant routes and continue running; he has more experience running routes that ask him to go deep down the field. Like with Ole Miss, getting the ball in Moncrief’s hands is a smart move so coming up with creative ways to do it and New England, Philadelphia, andNew Orleans could be a great situation for him.
Right now, Moncrief’s game is similar to that of DeMaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos. The former Yellow Jacket came out somewhat raw with a limited route tree with incredible physical tools and potential. Thomas has worked himself into being a dangerous target with Peyton Manning. Moncrief is just slightly smaller than Thomas at this point but offers the same type of deep threat and big play opportunities that Thomas does with the potential to be a little more polished before he enters the NFL Draft.
Moncrief has tremendous ability and has the potential to be the most talented wide receiver in the conference and one of the best in the draft class if he continues developing and really works to improve at his draft. The situation at Ole Miss with the quarterback and the team’s struggles produced inconsistent efforts as well as results. Interviews with not only Moncrief but people around the Rebel program will be important in determining how important football is for Moncrief. Based on the film, Moncrief shows boom or bust potential that could be an absolute steal if he goes to a team with a better environment that makes him feel like he can win and be successful. As a result, Moncrief’s rank could vary wildly on boards and he could go as high as day two or as low as undrafted, so his projected value is somewhere on day three.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com