In my discussions with Rudy Reyes over at ESPN 970 AM Pittsburgh radio this morning, we went over what we felt our own mock would be for the Pittsburgh Steelers. While we both agreed that the Steelers at least address the corner position in with the 15th overall pick (Reyes went with Darqueze Dennard, I went with Justin Gilbert) we went in rather different directions in the second round.
The Steelers have numerous holes to fill, and the two schools of thought that have resonated most this offseason is picking either a corner or a tall wide out with their first pick of the draft. Well if our early predictions hold true, then the Steelers must go wideout in the second round – at least in my opinion over Rudy’s. The Steelers can’t afford to wait until Rounds 4 or later (or even 3 for that matter) to wait for a wide receiver who will have a substantial impact within his first year on the roster. If the Steelers want to have any traction going forward with contract negotiations with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and keeping him until he retires five years from now, they are going to need to pony up in the form of a long range TD machine.
That said, I think the Steelers can find that playmaker in Donte Moncrief. The junior out of Ole Miss decided to enter this year’s draft even though the wide out class is deeper than in most seasons. If Ole Miss sounds familiar when it comes to talking about wide receivers, don’t forget that Mike Wallace hailed from there. But, where Wallace failed to become one of the best receivers in the league and continues to un-impress, Moncrief has the intangibles to excel and move past Wallace’s Pittsburgh shadow.
Moncrief is fast, of course, but he is fun to watch after he catches the football. He is very dangerous run-after-the-catch kind of receiver and can turn on the jets leaving corners in the dust. He does lack some explosiveness from the line of scrimmage, putting into question his ability to separate from NFL corners. However, he is a terrific route runner, which is the antithesis of what Mike Wallace could do with the playbook. Moncrief is tough and physical – great attributes for run blocking and blocking for that AB bubble screen that just won’t ever go away as long as Haley is OC. His 6′-2″ frame is very good for going up and getting the football. He makes difficult catches seem easy, which makes him a prime candidate for a huge red zone threat – something the Steelers continually suffer with.
Moncrief’s age is also a benefit to him over some of the other top receivers the Steelers could select were they to try and snag someone like Kelvin Benjamin. DM’s a junior and has been a playmaker for the Ole Miss Rebels all three seasons, whereas a player like Benjamin really came into the fray for one season as a sophomore and decided it was time to go pro. There are maturity issues that must be considered with guys like Benjamin, which is why I think Moncrief is the more solid and impactful pick.
The draft has been talked about ad nauseam, and who knows exactly what direction the Steelers will go in. There are 31 other teams that will impact what the Steelers decide on. But, I can tell you that if the Steelers want to make a vast improvement to their receiving core and scoring prowess in 2014, selecting Donte Moncrief is a very good start.