If I had to name the one player from the Colts 2014 draft class that Colts fans seem to be the most excited about, it would clearly be Donte Moncrief. Though not taken until the third round, Moncrief was the Colts' second pick of the 2014 NFL Draft and at this point clearly looks like their biggest "steal." While Moncrief certainly will help the offense this year, this pick was made with the future in mind.
The Colts wide receiver position looks to be the deepest position on the team entering 2014, with Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, and Hakeem Nicks as the top three receivers and then Moncrief, Da'Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill, and perhaps Griff Whalen behind them. In addition, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen will provide great receiving production. While the position looks loaded this year, it thins out significantly after the season. Reggie Wayne is currently a 35-year old coming off of a torn ACL and on a contract year. Hakeem Nicks has struggled with leg injuries in the past few years and has dropped off significantly and is on a 1-year "tryout" basis with the Colts. Neither of them are under contract past this year - one or both of them might well be extended, but at the moment, neither of them are under contract besides in 2013. That would leave just T.Y. Hilton as a legitimate starting receiver. I know there's a lot of Da'Rick Rogers love on this site and he has great potential, but based on what we saw last year I wouldn't feel comfortable at all with him as the starting receiver. Maybe he'll develop this year as well, but right now we can't count on that. Take into consideration all of those things, as well as the fact that a rookie wide receiver often needs a year to adjust to the league and develop, and it made perfect sense for the Colts to add a receiver that they think and hope can replace Reggie Wayne one day. That's Donte Moncrief.
Moncrief is a guy with tremendous size and tremendous speed. At 6-2, 221 pounds and with a 4.40 40 at the Combine, Moncrief excelled using his athleticism at Ole Miss. He did a nice job at creating separation and he was a tough player who was willing to block if need be. He is quick and makes nice plays on the ball and he is an incredibly dangerous playmaker. Probably the only thing that caused him to be a second or third round prospect is that he has a bit more work to do, namely in the area of route running. But that's an area where he can absolutely improve and he has significant upside - enough so that most draft analysts said he had number one or number two potential in a year or two. He just needs to work on some things this year (like his route running) and after a year he'll likely (hopefully) be ready to step into a starting role if need be.
Don't rule him out of the offense completely this year, either. He'll get playing time and that likely will increase as the year goes on. I expect him to be the Colts number four wide receiver and with that role I'd expect him to see significant time, just without the pressure or expectations of a number one receiver. It would be great for Moncrief to be able to contribute this year alongside legitimate number ones Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, gaining valuable experience, producing, and developing into a starter in a year or two. Donte Moncrief is a guy who will help the Colts out quite a bit in 2014, but the Colts hope that his biggest contributions will come in the future.
Quick Summary: Donte Moncrief:
Weight: 221 pounds
Age: 20 years old
Drafted: Third round (90th overall)
Statistical Resume: 38 games played, 156 receptions, 2,371 yards (15.2 yards per reception), 20 touchdowns
Not currently signed [UPDATE: The Colts must have seen this article or something, because about an hour or so after the publishing of it they signed Donte Moncrief.]
Pros: Great size and speed; creates separation; nice ball skills; terrific upside
Cons: Route running; doesn't always play to his size