There’s really no way to tell how new general manager Brian Gutekunst will approach free agency in a few months, but it would be a bit of a surprise if he doesn’t show at least some interest in Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief.
While the former Ole Miss star’s career in Indy has been somewhat of a disappointment, he checks off just about every box in Green Bay. Gutekunst will certainly be looking to add speed to a very slow position group. Moncrief ran 4.4 prior to the 2014 draft. Coach Mike McCarthy like big and physical wide receivers. Moncrief is 6-foot-2 and weighs 220 pounds. Executive VP/Director of Football Operations Russ Ball likes bargains. Moncrief doesn’t figure to command a lucrative contract.
Something else that should be very appealing about Moncrief is his familiarity with new offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and new wide receivers coach Jim Hostler. The three spent the past couple of seasons together with the Colts. In fact, Moncrief’s best season came with Hostler as his position coach in 2015.
The two plays below are perfect examples of what makes Moncrief so intriguing. In the first video, he beats Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman for a touchdown. That’s no easy feat, but having strong hands and outstanding leaping ability made it possible. These traits make Moncrief especially effective in the red zone, where he’s caught 18 touchdown passes in four seasons. In the second video, he turns a five-yard pass into a 50-yard gain by simply outrunning defenders. When’s the last time a Packer did that?
It’s true Moncrief is coming off a pair of fairly unproductive seasons, but it’s also true he spent those seasons catching passers from primarily Scott Tolzien and Jacoby Brissett. And while he wasn’t exactly Jerry Rice with Andrew Luck at quarterback, he did put up pretty good numbers in 2015 (64 catches for 733 yards and 6 TDs). The fact he won’t turn 25 until August is another thing working in his favor. There’s no reason to think he can’t get better, especially with future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball.
So why is a wide receiver who resembles Davante Adams in many ways almost an afterthought as free agency approaches? Besides the aforementioned two down seasons, Moncrief has always been a bit inconsistent – both in his route running and especially in his catching. In the video below, he drops what should’ve been a first-down reception against the Packers. Yes, safety Morgan Burnett had tight coverage, but this is a play that a wide receiver simply has to make. I saw quite a few similar drops in the games I watched.
Staying healthy has been another problem for Moncrief. After playing in all 32 games in his first two season, he missed seven games in 2016 with a shoulder injury and the final four games this past season with an ankle.
With the futures of overpaid veterans Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb very much up in the air, Gutekunst will have to begin rebuilding the wide receiver position this offseason, and while Moncrief alone won’t be nearly enough, it would be a good start. At best, he could step right in as the No. 3 receiver and perhaps develop into a No. 2 down the road. At worst, he would immediately be a much better No. 4 than Geronimo Allison.