Donte Moncrief was not a splash signing by any nature. It did not make waves across the league, but it does come off as a typical Pittsburgh Steelers move. Considering his status around the league, the Steelers were able to buy low when a player did not have much value.
However, the low risk proposition presents a lot of potential untapped talent.
Donte Moncrief has upside
Donte Moncrief walked onto campus at Ole Miss and immediately led the team in receiving. Whether it’s receptions, yards, touchdowns, or yards after the catch Moncrief led the way.
Ole Miss did not have a talented roster, but it was impressive to walk onto an SEC campus at age 18 and carry his team. Being able to dominate a high share of targets at a younger age than your peers in college has proven to correlate to success in the NFL. It also appears to be something the Steelers pay attention to, as Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Markus Wheaton, and JuJu Smith-Schuster all broke out as their teams leading receiver before the age of 20.
In his sophomore season, he posted 10 touchdowns and completed back to back 900-yard seasons. He accomplished this all by the age of 20.
Donte Moncrief went to the combine and tested extremely well.
As you can see, compared to his peers combine statistics he is not only much taller than an average NFL player, he is heavier, longer and much more explosive. Combining the fact that he had success against SEC competition at a young age, and that he is tall, fast and explosive compares him favorably to elite level athletes. PlayerProfiler.com compared his weight adjusted combine numbers and production data to Andre Johnson.
Of course, Andre Johnson is going to be a Hall of Famer. The difference between the two is that Johnson is a unique route runner who could create separation in the short, middle and intermediate areas of the field. Donte Moncrief, for the most part, was just a deep threat. A successful deep threat, but a one-trick player nonetheless. Despite being drafted in the third round, NFL.com gave him a late first-early second round grade.
Donte Moncrief was drafted to a team that had T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and a 26-year old Hakeem Hicks. He was not able to see the field much as a third-round rookie who was unrefined as a route runner.
In his second season, he once again broke out at a young age to the tune of 64 receptions for 733 yards and six touchdowns. To put that into perspective in Martavis Bryant’s second season in the NFL he caught 50 passes for 765 yards and six touchdowns. Bryant had a better yards per catch total, but had a 54% completion rate compared to 61% when Luck targeted Moncrief. The big difference is Moncrief was two years younger than Martavis Bryant in their second seasons.
The Colts found an explosive threat who could put the ball into the end zone. Moncrief broke out in his second season in similar fashion to his blow up a sophomore campaign that featured six touchdowns.
Unfortunately, a shoulder injury ended his 2016 season in week nine after eclipsing his career high touchdown total in just seven games played. Extrapolated out, Moncrief was in line for 60 receptions, for 614 yards and 14 touchdowns. The touchdowns are insane, but Moncrief was on track for another strong season.
Little did he know that the next two years of his career were going to go down a much different trajectory.
Coming back from shoulder surgery he was not teamed up with Andrew Luck for year three, but instead saw a season of Jacoby Brissett. From Brissett came Blake Bortles. Still, while it was quiet thanks to the issues in Jacksonville, he did lead the Jaguars in yards per reception in 2018.
His 48 receptions for 668 yards and three touchdowns from Blake Bortles was better than 50 receptions for 603 yards and three touchdowns that Martavis Bryant contributed in 2017 during his last season with Ben Roethlisberger.
Setting the bar high?
This is going to look like cherry-picking stats, but when you think of Moncrief you have to think of not only being tall but heavy, weighing over 220 pounds. There are not many players with his weight to be as explosive and make plays down the field. Most people at his size cannot move that way. He also has production. While it has not been consistent, he is only 25 and has big seasons at Ole Miss and in the NFL.
Most NFL players experience their prime from age 25-30, so Moncrief is just now entering the peak years of his career.
Let’s look at big wide receiver who produced at a young age.
The only wide receivers to stand over 6’1″, 220 pounds with more receptions and more yards per reception than him by their age 25 season are Alshon Jeffrey, Michael Crabtree, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, and Larry Fitzgerald. That list will include JuJu Smith-Schuster at the rate he is going.
Here is a list of every receiver with those measurements to have his type of NFL success by age 25.
There are not many players with his skill set, and most of them wind up being hits in the NFL.
Moncrief has been bordering on the becoming a big hit as well. His second season was on the trajectory of a star wide receiver, but an injury, followed by quarterback issues turned him into a buy-low candidate for the Steelers.
This is exactly the type of calculated risk that you have to take when it comes to replacing a wide receiver who has shown to be as potent as Antonio Brown. The Steelers identified a player ready to enter his prime with the odds of stats and measurements on his side.
Report: Rescheduled Steelers-Titans Game to be Nationally Televised on CBS
The rescheduled game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans is expected to be nationally televised on CBS, according to a report by the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand.
As for when the game will be played, Marchand is reporting it will be played on Monday at 5 p.m., or Tuesday at 6 or 7 p.m.
The rescheduled Steelers-Titans game is expected to be on national TV on CBS, according to sources.— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) October 1, 2020
It will be either on Monday at 5 p.m. or Tuesday at 6 or 7 p.m.
The Steelers and Titans were originally supposed to square off Sunday at 1 p.m., but that game has been postponed after three Titans players and five staff members tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. The total has no risen to ten since the outbreak was first reported.
The NFL announced in a statement Wednesday that the game would be postponed to Monday or Tuesday to “allow additional time for further daily COVID-19 testing.”
Another option that has been discussed would reschedule the game for Week 7, which is Tennessee’s bye week, and push the Steelers-Ravens matchup scheduled for that Sunday to Week 8. The Steelers and Ravens currently share a bye Week 8.
Marchand added that the league prefers to play the game Monday to keep competitive balance, while CBS wants to play the game at 7 p.m. as to not disrupt their news programming.
I should add the NFL preference is Monday for competitive balance. For CBS, a 7 pm start would be better as it wouldn't impact its news programs and it would be a later standalone broadcast window.— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) October 1, 2020
Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/30/20
The Steelers were back to work on the practice field Wednesday despite learning their upcoming game against Tennessee is being moved to either Monday or Tuesday.
In this clip, the defense, most notably the secondary works on coverage, runs to stay conditioned and shows the chemistry of the entire unit.
Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers
Where Would a Monday or Tuesday Night Steelers Game Be Broadcast?
If the NFL follows historical precedent, the the Steelers game against the Titans, moved to Monday or Tuesday night by the league on Wednesday, will still be broadcast locally on CBS affiliate KDKA-TV, but no final decision has been for the game at this time, Steelers Now has learned.
In the past, when Sunday games have been postponed to a weeknight for other issues, the games have been broadcast locally as they would normally be on a Sunday afternoon, and not nationally in competition with other broadcasts.
ESPN has exclusive national broadcast rights for Monday night games and they will be airing the Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers game, starting at 8:15 p.m. Monday night.
There is no exclusive national broadcast window for Tuesday nights, of course, but there would have to be some type of arrangement made with CBS to remove the game from that network and have it be broadcast nationally.
KDKA-TV and other CBS affiliates in the Pittsburgh and Nashville markets would also have to deal with the prospect of pre-empting primetime network broadcasts. CBS is scheduled to air long-running series Big Brother on Monday night and NCIS on Tuesday night.