It’s probably not very wise to get too worked up over the news that comes out of Steelers training camp on a daily basis (although, we sure do try).
However, if the reports about Donte Moncrief, the veteran receiver Pittsburgh signed as a free agent this past offseason, are true, it might actually be cool to get excited over the possibility of him taking the bull by the horns and claiming the number two receiver spot opposite JuJu Smith-Schuster as his own.
It’s obviously very early, and it’s certainly no surprise that a six-year veteran would quickly emerge as the early favorite for a very crucial role in Pittsburgh’s offense in 2019.
Given more time and more reps this summer, perhaps second-year receiver James Washington will ultimately win the job and be the true deep threat the offense has lacked since before Martavis Bryant’s year-long drug-related suspension.
But it sure is nice to have a player like Moncrief around just in case Washington needs more seasoning.
Moncrief didn’t arrive in Pittsburgh with a resume that jumped out at you. He wasn’t a highly sought after free agent. But with 200 career receptions for two different teams, he screams professional. In fact, if Moncrief were a veteran baseball player, he might be best described as a “professional hitter.” A professional hitter in baseball terms is someone who doesn’t necessarily lead the league in batting average or home runs, but he gives his team one quality plate appearance after another over the course of a 162-game season.
Quality: that’s the impression you get of Moncrief when you hear his teammates talk about how he goes about his business. That’s the impression you get when they talk about the confidence and belief they already have in him.
Here’s a guy who played with Andrew Luck and not surprisingly put up quality numbers. Not great numbers, mind you, but quality numbers—including 64 receptions for 733 yards (both career highs) in 2015. Moncrief put up those numbers even though Luck missed over half the season with injuries.
Moncrief somehow managed to catch 48 passes for 668 last season despite playing with the Jaguars and their anemic air attack.
If Moncrief can put together such a quality and very professional stat-line while catching passes from Blake Bortles, surely, he can approach or surpass his aforementioned career year catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger.
That’s all the Steelers really need from their number two receiver in 2019. Someone who will catch 60-70 passes for 700-900 yards. Those numbers won’t get a receiver voted to the Pro Bowl, but they sure would help take the heat off of Smith-Schuster.
Moncrief certainly has the physical attributes one would want in a receiver--including size, speed and physicality.
And just to show you how much of a professional Moncrief really is, he immediately began developing a rapport with his franchise quarterback during offseason workouts.
If nobody else steps up and takes the spot away from Moncrief this summer, at least it’s comforting to know the position of number two receiver will be in the hands of a true professional in 2019.