It's no secret that the wide receiver depth in this draft is incredibly deep. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock called it the best class he'd seen in years, and John Elway agreed with him, saying the wide receiver depth is "what makes the draft deep."
That depth is something that the Indianapolis Colts desperately needed to address heading into the 2014 draft. When the No. 90 overall pick was up, WR Donte Moncrief was one of three second-round talents I had left upon my board. I was ecstatic to hear the pick.
While the Colts defense still needs work, and some high-quality talents were passed on by selecting Moncrief, the former Ole Miss receiver should be a solid long-term addition to the Colts' passing offense.
When it comes to physical attributes, no receiver in the NFL draft combines Moncrief's size (6'2", 221 pounds) and frame with top-end speed. Moncrief's explosiveness and ideal frame is what gives him one of this year's highest ceilings.
Raymond Summerlin of Rotoworld put together a metric to quantify receivers' explosiveness, combining the receivers' 40-yard dash times, broad jump, vertical jump, height and weight. Moncrief's numbers were comparable to the five best since 1999: Calvin Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Stephen Hill, Julio Jones and Andre Johnson. That's pretty good company.
Now, obviously 40 times and height aren't the only thing that make a receiver, but Moncrief's pure athleticism and physical traits are ideal for a future No. 1 receiver. While Moncrief isn't the most elusive player in space, he's very similar to T.Y. Hilton in that he quickly accelerates to top speed and can gain big yards if he has a lane. He's not going to make multiple moves and weave through a crowd, but he can make one move and go, and has the strength to break a tackle or two if need be.
Moncrief also has reliable hands, recording just one drop in 2013, according to Rob Rang of CBS Sports. However, he does need to improve his strength when going up for grabs in traffic. He'll occasionally allow the defender to knock away catchable balls and is not aggressive enough when going over the middle. Most statisticians wouldn't consider those drops but rather passes defensed. Still, they are plays fans and coaches want to see receivers make.
When it comes to route-running, Moncrief can use some polishing. A good receiver coach needs to work with him to help him be consistent in his cuts, to drop his hips lower and be more explosive out of his breaks. But Moncrief does have experience running a full route tree, and he shouldn't have an extensive learning curve at the NFL level.
Ryan Grigson called him a "worker" in his post-draft press conference, which bodes very well for his future in the NFL. Moncrief isn't a prima donna, stereotypical wide receiver, and he's never had the offensive talent around him that the Colts will provide him, from the quarterback to the veteran receivers ahead of him.
At just 20 years old, Moncrief is a lump of clay. He's raw in many ways, but not so much as to consider him a multi-year project; he has the tools to be a star wide receiver in this league.
While Moncrief could go to many teams and start as a rookie, he likely won't be playing much in his first year in Indianapolis. While some people may see this as a negative, it's a perfect scenario for both Moncrief and the Colts.
For the receiver, he comes into a situation where veteran receivers like Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks can help school him in his weakest areas. Wayne is a master route-runner, one of the best the league has seen in the last decade. Nicks is an excellent possession receiver, using his enormous hands to catch the ball away from his body. Nicks also is phenomenal at winning and getting separation at the line of scrimmage, something Moncrief could improve on.
With Moncrief getting tips in those areas from the veterans, while watching Hilton to figure out how best to use his speed, there's few other situations in the league that would offer the same learning opportunities. In Indianapolis, Moncrief doesn't have to start right away. He could, if Wayne's recovery from ACL surgery doesn't go well or somebody else is injured, but as of right now he doesn't have to.
In coordinator Pep Hamilton's offense, Moncrief projects long term as a number one or "X" receiver. He can stretch the field with his speed and double-moves. (Between he and Hilton, the Colts may have one of the best double-move tandems in the NFL.)
He can use his frame and size to be a possession receiver on third downs and in the red zone. He has extensive experience with screens at Ole Miss. He is an excellent blocker. He has the potential to do it all in Indianapolis.
Yes, there is work to be done with Moncrief. But the potential there is higher than any other receiver currently on the Colts roster. With the time and resources to develop Moncrief at his own pace in Indianapolis, everybody wins.
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