Some thoughts on Donte Moncrief

Moncrief's leaping ability is pretty special

Donte Moncrief’s 2013 tape is pretty average and frustrating.

And it’s not really his fault. Not entirely.

I’m not sure what Ole Miss are trying to do on offense under Hugh Freeze. They spell in two quarterbacks, they do a little read option. They ask Bo Wallace to run the ball but he’s also predominantly a pocket passer.

It’s a bit of everything which ends up being pretty muddled and messy for the most part.

They’d almost be better off just committing to one or the other. Be a pro-style team or a run heavy option attack.

Moncrief’s form suffered as a consequence, and he probably wasn’t the only one. And while his situation is still a darn site better than the one Brandon Coleman found himself in at Rutgers, it’s not exactly been the ideal environment for a receiver to perform.

Having said that — he’s not entirely blameless either. He didn’t trouble Alabama’s secondary at all — and that’s a massive audition for the NFL. There were too many games last year where he left opportunities on the field and didn’t have enough of an impact — even if he did play on a disappointing offense.

I found his 2012 tape to be a lot better. And despite some of the frustrating moments last season, there’s definitely plenty to work with.

Moncrief can be a big-play artist. He’s got enough size (6-2, 221lbs) to compete in the air, plus the speed (4.40) to be a YAC or downfield threat.

There are more than a handful of examples on tape where he sidesteps a corner after a quick out and he’s gone. He’s not just a good athlete who can run, there’s so much natural ability to his game. You can throw a quick pass to him in the flat and he’s tough to bring down. He’ll get cheap yards on the quick throws (Seattle often used these to Golden Tate).

He’s extremely effective in chewing up a DB’s cushion, driving off a corner and creating separation (see 0:40 in the video below). He can get deep too. Both Moncrief and Martavis Bryant use speed as a decoy running routes — they’ll give the impression they’ll run deep, eliminate the cushion and get the corner turned. Then they’ll drive into a little crossing route or sit.

Both players have mastered this, and Moncrief’s done it without the top-notch coaching the Clemson receivers get.

He had a 39.5 inch vertical at the combine and an 11.0 broad jump. Only two players had a better vertical, and nobody topped 11.0 on the broad.

He also carries 221lbs very well. There’s no bad weight — and that’s quite a big frame for a 6-2 receiver.

It’s not all positive of course — and there’s one crucial area he’ll need to improve to be a potential Seahawk.

Winning jump balls and competing in the air is a must for this team. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin might not be +6-0, but they’re fantastic at going up and getting the football against bigger corners. I’d say Moncrief is average at best winning jump balls. And that’s a shame given his impressive vertical.

Part of it is inconsistent physicality. He’ll get pushed around sometimes. He doesn’t always show strong hands (his hands, incidentally, are on the small side at 9 1/8 inches).

This is kind of why he was so frustrating last year. There are examples where he does compete well in the air, or show genuine toughness.

His run blocking kind of sums him up perfectly. When he wants to block — he’s awesome. I’ve seen him throw some of the best blocks you’ll see from a college receiver — and he knows it. He celebrates the good blocks.

And then there are other times where he doesn’t want to know.

If you could get under his skin, get at him a little and make him play with a chip on his shoulder, you’ll get a better player. It really comes down to whether you can create that environment — and how will he respond to being challenged by his own team? Some thrive in that type of situation, others fold. Although I will say Moncrief appears to be mentally tough.

I suspect some teams are going to look at the 2012 tape and really buy into this guy. He could easily be the 3rd or 4th receiver on a few draft boards. The national pundits aren’t really discussing this, but for me he could easily be a first round pick. Easily.

And yet it wouldn’t surprise me either if he did stick around into the second frame.

Moncrief might not be a really dominating, prototypical big man like Mike Evans or Kelvin Benjamin might become — but he could be a guy who’s capable of making several big plays during a season and enough basic plays per-game to warrant a high pick.

For the Seahawks, I do think he’ll be an option at #32. His SPARQ rating will be through the roof and I think you can work on making him a little edgier.

(Just make him share a room with Doug Baldwin on road trips)

In fact his best fit might be on an offense like Seattle’s. They can take their shots using him downfield, they can use his leaping ability in jump ball situations and work on making him stronger in that department.

He could offer some of the X-factor qualities that Golden Tate provided, plus some of the factors Sidney Rice offered as a taller receiver in this system.

I would recommend checking out his 2012 tape — it is better than some of the 2013 stuff out there. Here’s a game against Texas where he should’ve had three highlight-reel touchdowns:


  1. Steve Nelsen

    Rob, the Hawks are so big on SPAARQ. Can you give us a quick tutorial on what it means and measures?

    • Rob Staton

      Basically it just collects all the athletic data (40 yard dash, short shuttle, vertical, broad jump, three cone) and refines it to one overall grade. Christine Michael had a stunning SPARQ value a year ago. You used to be able to calculate the grades online but Nike removed access to the calculator. I believe Jeff Janis, Donte Moncrief and Martavis Bryant are the top three SPARQ receivers for 2014.

      • Matt

        I believe that the players weight comes into play in the calculation too. With Moncreif being 220, like Michael, you’re right that his SPARQ rating has to be through the roof! The SPARQ rating system holds a lot of weight in Seattle, which is why I think guys like Moncreif, Matthews and Bryant are high on their board, while guys like Landry aren’t.(most likely) Janis’ combine #’s are impressive! Don’t know much about him though…

      • Steve Nelsen

        Thanks, Rob. I was looking for a SPARQ calculator or some SPARQ measurement for evaluating prospects to try and anticipate Seattle’s draft picks because I think it is clear that they use some kind of modified SPARQ/value ratio to create their board.

        I am not concerned anymore about Benjamin, Cooks and Coleman all being picked before 32 because I wouldn’t be surprised now to learn that Bryant and Moncrief are ranked higher. There will be at least one fast, 6-4 red-zone, potential #1 receiver at 32.

    • jdtjohnson

      here’s an older article explaining it:

  2. CC

    Moncrief was initially on my list of “Seahawky” guys, but then after his pro day where he sounded inconsistent, I took him off. Maybe I have to think about adding him. He does have the measurable, but will he be another Lockette and take a few years to get it together.

    • Rob Staton

      I think he’s a lot more polished than Lockette, who really was just an athlete.

  3. Ben

    Great right up Rob. Thanks for all you do. I love checking you’re site everyday. It’s quickly become my favorite go to place for ALL Seahawks inside news. It’s the best I’ve found anywhere.

    GEUAX Seahawks!

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Ben.

  4. AlaskaHawk

    You made me chuckle. You are like a single guy at a bar – each girl you look at becomes your new favorite for the night!

    If we are getting down to his area – I like devante Adams because he has good hands.

    • CC

      That is what the girl at the bar said too – ha ha

  5. JeffC

    I want the seahawks to leave this draft with Martavis Bryant someway, somehow.

  6. DawgDav

    Moncrief would definitely be interesting with this coaching staff if they can get him to focus. Also interesting that of all his tape there was virtually no deep ball that was thrown properly to him (all short and/or inside which negates his speed advantage). That said, his hands are concerning.

    Any thoughts on Cody Latimer? We’ll find out tomorrow a bit about his speed but he has Moncrief’s “Seahawk-y” size/strength/etc with good jump ball ability, plus hands in traffic and excellent run blocking. If he runs decently well he screams Sehawks to me.

    Also, a bit unrelated but curious if you have any thoughts on Ben Gardner of Stanford? Supposedly, put up top 5 numbers for a DL in the vertical, short shuttle and broad jump and his pro-day but also had under 31″ arms.

    • Rob Staton

      That arm length on Gardner would worry me. He’s a T-Rex. I haven’t studied him at all though on tape. Latimer is someone I’ve seen in passing. Decent later round option but with such a good WR class I want to grab one early.

      • DawgDav

        May be worth a second look on Latimer, particularly if he runs well at his pro day. He was given a third round grade by the NFL advisory committee which means taking him at 64 wouldn’t be a stretch at all.

        With Gardner I agree on the T-Rex issue but know that the Seahawks have gone that route for interior guys who have other unique abilities before (latest being Jesse Williams). Gardner’s sack totals for a guy who played a large percentage of snaps as an interior rusher and 5 tech are intriguing.

        • DawgDav

          Pro day results for Latimer of a 39″ vertical and official 40 times being reported at 4.39 and 4.43. Also followed by a flurry of rumors that teams are looking at him as a second or early third round guy (which matches the advisory committee). You really should take a second look (especially once a bit more tape, Penn St and Mizzou games for example, comes out).

  7. YDB

    I followed Moncrief closely all last season, and I have to say that I would be thrilled if Seattle could come away from the draft with him.

    When I would watch Ole Miss play, I would wonder just as you did, why not pick an offensive philosophy and stick to it? Sticking to a style and mentality is something Pete has been an outspoken proponent of, and the results speak for themselves. I mean, with all the great offensive weapons at Hugh’s disposal, why not air it out instead of the schizophrenic game plan he employed? Week by week, it became clear that this was his attempt to manage very poor QB play by Wallace against a stacked defensive schedule. This guy had a potential 1st rounder in Moncrief and the #1 freshman WR recruit in the country in Treadwell, as well as a couple other very good role players to target, yet he felt his best chance to win was to hide his “throwing QB”.

    The Alabama game was an example of this. Moncrief was mostly used as a run blocker (he did a very good job) and to run phantom routes to act as a decoy. Bama played him by having #4 follow him around the field almost all game and having HHCD rolled over the top on nearly all snaps. I thought he was effective when actually utilized in the passing game, but he did have a drop late when a ball was batted out of his hands before he could finish the act.

    In regards to his 2012 tape, he was able to show quite a bit of potential as a true sophomore vs very good SEC competition. He lit up Slay and Banks when they faced him. And, maybe more prominently to PCJS, he schooled Tharold Simon and Reid when he faced LSU.

    He does look like he is capable of putting on functional upperbody strength with a good S&C plan, and that would help him out in becoming a great weapon in the NFL. And, being as he doesn’t have his 21st birthday until August, he should continue to develop both mentally and physically throughout the life of his first contract.

  8. Don

    Hi Rob,

    It looks like someone on the 49ers blog wrote a report on Moncrief at the same time and came up with the same conclusion.

    The Hawks can do better with the first to picks.

    • Don

      …first TWO picks.

      • Madmark

        Don’t think you understand we really aren’t round 1 and 2. We are more like beginning round 2 and 3. Think about this if they evaluate a guy as a 2nd round guy and he’s pick in the 2nd round. Do you think he was picked with the at 64. Seattle it makes no difference they grab Irving in the 1st on Robs mock that year I took him in the 3rd round. If there guy is a 2nd round they’ll be taking him with 32 and if theirs a guy in the 3 round they’ll take him at 64. Seattle a lot like Kip theres always a couple players they don’t want to leave the draft without.

        • Matt

          I was hilarious that the SF writer reiterated the fact that the 9ers haven’t been able to develop a WR of any significance! It’s true and their FO knows it. Paying $6 mil a year on an aging Boldin shows their lack of confidence in finding talent at WR in the draft. Which could affect their ability to resign other major contributors of their team. We let Golden walk for similar $(over more years) and a big part is because we have been able to develop our young WR talent.

  9. Madmark

    I thank you for the write up on Moncrief, Rob. I really like this guy as my 2nd round draft pick. I think he’s a Christian Michaels pick only I wouldn’t trade back into the 3rd round to get him. 64 would be fine with me. If there a run on WR then there going to be a good OL at 32. Golden Tate was draft in the 2nd round as a senior and it took him into his 3rd year to start to break out. Donte is a very young junior who hasn’t been injured and played on a very bad offense. The bonus is he’ll get to work with a very good QB and Coaching staff so I wouldn’t think i’llt take him that long to learn. If you are practicing against LOB theres just no way you won’t get better. I watch a lot of video on this guy including the one above he can get down the field especially on play action and have his guy beat and I’ll tell you RW won’t be missing as many of those as Bo Wallace.
    Before I finish know with comp picks and the fact that we don’t have a 3rd pick. The numbers on our later picks have just jump farther and so the 1 and 2 mean much much more.
    4 round pick132
    5round pick 146
    5 round pick 172
    6 round pick208
    7 round pick 247
    Seatlle’s scouts are really going to have to be on the ball this year.

    • AlaskaHawk

      You mentioned earlier that because we won the Super Bowl it is like we are picking in top 2nd and 3 rd round. We found Tate at top of 2nd. I think we will have a wide selection of excellent wide receivers at 32 Down to mid 2nd round. After that it will depend on the player, coaching and luck.

  10. NMD

    Love seeing your thoughts on Moncrief Rob. I loved this guy after the 2012 season and although a lot of 2013 was disappointing all the skills are still there and I can’t bring myself to knock him down much. I had him at #23 on my Pre-Combine Big Board although my #5 WR (I love this class of WRs as everyone does) and there’s no reason I see dropping him. My biggest knock on him is, as you pointed out, his lack of winning jump balls while he has all the physical skills to where it should be a strength of his. If he’s there at #32 I would be ecstatic to see PCJS draft him though it seems he’s generally thought of as a borderline 2nd rounder at best. I really think he can be the #1 WR this team has been seeking and could be a Terrell Owens if all goes well.

  11. Turp

    Good article, thanks Rob!

  12. Bill

    Maybe its good that there is not much talk about Jordan Matthews out of Vanderbilt. Similar size and speed. Bonus bloodline being related to Jerry Rice! Maybe trade out of the 1st to pick up 3rd rounder and take him in the 2nd.

    • Brad

      I agree. Jordan Matthews is probably the most unheralded top WR prospect. He’s got great blend of size, speed, and route running. I like his story too as well. Only recruited by Vanderbilt, basically lead the SEC in receiving the last two years. Decided to return for his senior season to pursue a degree. I was thinking the same thing about trading out of the 1st round. Possibly pick him up in the 2nd round and Landry in the 3rd. Those two guys to me have a Seahawk vibe about them. We’ve seen JS and PC draft duos of the same position high in the draft before (Hill/Williams, Carpenter/Moffitt).

      • Rob Staton

        Without wanting to repeat myself over and over again, Jordan Matthews is fast becoming the most overrated player in the draft.

        • troy


          Okay lets talk about Colt Lyerla as a 7th RD project then 😉

  13. Derek

    Hey Rob,

    I took a trip out to Seattle last year and instantly became in love with the town and the Hawks. I had never really adopted an NFL team as I live in Mississippi and it’s NFLDL down here, or as the rest of the country likes to call it, the SEC.

    We were visiting some family up there, and I got a chance to tour the stadium and see the surroundings.

    Living in Mississippi, I’m a big Ole Miss fan and am of course a Moncrief fan. Moncrief will likely be a star in the NFL, and I’ll tell you why.

    Our QB Bo Wallace separated his shoulder in 2012. It didn’t heal 100%, but he played through it. It took away a good bit of the playbook from Freeze and a lot of the deep balls. We had to rely on the short passing game (as to why our star freshmen slot receiver LaQuon Treadwell had 71 catches). Our offensive line took some hits, and it really limited what our offense is capable of. Brunetti was the change of pace QB fit mostly for the zone-read, but his arm accuracy was subpar.

    Through all of that, he still almost matched his 2012 total. He had some inconsistent play and some drops, but overall he had a great career as a Reb. Also, he has strong work ethic and is a gym rat.

    One thing that was always overlooked regarding Moncrief’s play was his ability to seal the edge with run-blocking. He’s an excellent run-blocking receiver.

    At 6’2, 221lbs., a 4.40 40 yard dash is more than solid. Add in 39.5 inch vertical, and he’s a physical freak.

    He might not be that receiver you grab that will instantly give you an All-Pro receiver, but his chances of doing that are greater than busting. His ceiling is through the roof, and if he makes it to the third round, somebody is getting an absolute steal. He’s a early-to-mid 2nd rounder IMO.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks for the thoughts Derek.

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