Want to win your 2014 rookie draft? Take Donte Moncrief. Trust me.
In my 2014 Wide Receiver Pre Combine Midterm post I stated that Moncrief was a WR we needed to keep an eye on. After his insane combine he certainly has everyone’s attention.
I’m willing to say Moncrief has the 2nd highest ceiling, if not the highest, of any WR in this year’s draft class (Mike Evans gives him a run for his money). In fact, Moncrief probably has a top 5 floor as well. Let’s dive into how Moncrief fared in categories that are predictive of NFL success.
In Shawn Siegele’s WR Holy Grail piece he found successful WRs in the NFL to be six months younger than unsuccessful WRs. That’s a large gap. Moncrief will finish his rookie season in the NFL at 21.4 years old. Only Brandin Cooks (21.3) is younger. The average of the “hits” in Shawn’s piece was 22.8. Moncrief is over a year younger than the average.
Weight was also a category where hits and misses differed in Shawn’s Holy Grail article. The hits (206.3) were almost 5 pounds heavier than the misses (201.7). Moncrief came in at 221 lbs which is a great weight for his height (6’2) and well above the average of successful WRs.
Height Adjusted Speed Score only came in as a negligible difference between the hits and misses in Shawn’s piece, but Moncrief’s HaSS was not only the highest in the entire class, but is only a hair below what is considered elite (120). Here are the top 5 height adjusted speed scores in the ’14 class:
Explosion is important when looking for dominant WR1s. WRs who are the #1 target of their respective teams usually dominate WR fantasy rankings. Here are the top 5 explosion scores of the ’14 class:
170 and above is considered elite, so accompanied with Moncrief’s class leading HaSS is an elite explosion score.
Break Out Age:
Another great column from Shawn explored the idea of break out age in college (posting a DR of .30 or higher), and the importance of breaking out at an early age. Moncrief has the earliest break out age of any WR in this years class (18.4). Watkins is the only other WR in the entire class who broke out before he turned 19 (18.5). Moncrief is currently being mocked somewhere in the 2nd to 3rd round. In the 2nd round, 88% of hits were WRs who broke out coming in at an average break out age of 19.9. In the 3rd round 86% of the hits were WRs who broke out, breaking out at an age of 20.6 on average. Obviously, Moncrief easily fits the criteria of hits in those rounds.
Jon Moore then looked into the idea of break out age from a fantasy perspective. Looking at WRs drafted from 2006-2011 who broke out in college, Moore found 5 WRs whose break out age was under 19. Of those 5 WRs, 3 of them went on to post a top 30 fantasy season, while 1 even went on to post a top 15 fantasy season. Those examples suggest Moncrief has a very good chance to become fantasy relevant at the least. Its also important to point out the players in the 18 break out age sample are going on their 9th year in the league at the most. There is still time for these players to have good to great fantasy seasons. Also, two of the players in the sample (Nicks and Britt) have had their careers severely hampered by injuries to this point and certainly looked ready to dominate at the NFL level until the injuries took over.
The Dominator Rating test is Moncrief’s only down fall. In his WR Holy Grail piece mentioned many times above, Shawn Siegele found WRs who succeed in the NFL average a DR of 39.5 while misses averaged DRs of 29.0. Moncrief’s final season DR was 25.25. It is certainly concerning that he posted a DR lower than the average of misses in his final collegiate season where he is expected to be at his best. Knowing that Moncrief broke out during his freshman season it is obvious he took a step back his final year. Moncrief actually improved on his freshman DR of 34.5 during his sophomore year where he posted a DR of 36. It has to be very improbable that a player peaked at age 19 and is now regressing as an athlete. His first two seasons being a great success suggest Moncrief’s final season was simply a down year, but you would like to see a player at his best coming into the draft.
As I showed in an earlier article attempting to solve the red zone puzzle, Moncrief’s red zone TD rate his final season was a terrible 13%. 30% and above is what you would like to see out of a WR his size. Although Moncrief only caught 13% of his red zone targets for TDs his junior year, he still caught 25% of Ole Miss’ red zone TDs. The combination of these two numbers suggest that Ole Miss was pretty inefficient throwing the ball in the red zone last season. Whether this was the fault of QB Bo Wallace’s or another factor is unknown, but it certainly hurt Moncrief’s red zone TD rate and in effect, his DR. Moncrief actually had a red zone TD rate of 29% his sophomore season, but his yards per target inside the 20 improved from 3.29 to 4.47 as well as his percentage of yards to-go gained (.52 to .59) from his sophomore to junior season. This may suggest Moncrief was simply unlucky in ’13 or possibly his ’13 red zone targets were further from the goal line than they were the season before, which isn’t ideal when you’re looking to score TDs.
Since I’m not an avid Ole Miss fan and can’t remember watching more than one of their games this season I came to a contributor to the Ole Miss SB Nation site with questions regarding Moncrief’s junior season regression. He listed two reasons for the regression.
“Freshman Laquon Treadwell took a lot of receptions away. He led the team in catches even though he didn’t have the yards Moncrief had … Moncrief simply wasn’t as reliable as he was two seasons ago, in that he had a few baffling drops.”
He also went on to say:
“I think he showed little difference as a receiver from 2012 to 2013 … I did hear rumors of Moncrief playing through a shoulder injury, but I can’t substantiate those.” – @RedCupRebellion
The Treadwell point is a solid one. Treadwell saw 97 targets in 2013 compared to Moncrief’s 112. While Moncrief still saw the biggest share of Ole Miss’ targets the freshman Treadwell was not far behind at all. For what its worth, Treadwell was much less efficient only posting a DR of 19. It seems like Moncrief had an off season as far as catching the football with consistency. Although receptions are not factored into the DR, the reception yards and possibly TDs he left on the field as the result of drops could have certainly added up. The statement on Moncrief showing little difference as a WR from ’12 to ’13 concerns me a little. Of course there are a large range of reasons as to why he didn’t improve from year 2 to 3, but poor work ethic is certainly in the realm of possibilities. At the same time below average coaching is also a possibility so its probably best not to assume. Moncrief did go down with a shoulder injury against Auburn in Spetember of 2013 so the chance he played through the majority of the season with a shoulder injury is there, but of course it is not best to assume. I’ll keep it tucked into the back of my mind.
Moncrief’s comparables are full of dominant physical specimen who went on to have a wide range of NFL success, but given all signs other than final season DR highly in his favor, accompanied with his SEC pedigree, I’d be willing to bet Moncrief has a professional career much closer to Julio Jones than Chad Jackson.
For fun, here are Calvin Johnson’s most accurate compareables according to mockdraftable.com:
Had Moncrief repeated his DR of 36 from his sophomore season in his final year he would have been in the conversation as the #1 pick in dynasty rookie drafts. Thankfully for us he had a down year in his final season and now presents a great value in dynasty drafts. His current ADP is 138.5 in dynasty start-ups as the 11th rookie WR, which is absurd. That number probably translates to a mid to late 2nd round pick in rookie drafts.
Here’s to hoping Moncrief continues to be massively undervalued after falling just short of Mayock’s prestigious “Checks All Boxes” squad.