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What do the Colts have with wide receiver Donte Moncrief?

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New England Patriots v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

What is Donte Moncrief exactly? For one, he is the largest receiver on the Colts roster at 6’2” 216lbs. With the addition of Kamar Aiken he doesn’t hold that spot by much. There can be no doubt that he has had success in the red zone. His 7 touchdowns in only 9 games last season show that. What’s more, they are not a fluke, because he had 6 in the previous year.

To hear him tell it, Moncrief is a grinder. So much so that he has a tattoo that reads GOGA-short for Grind Or Get Ate. However atrocious that grammar is, the message is accurate. If you aren’t constantly working to be better in the NFL, you won’t be around long. It is one thing to say it, though, and another to live it.

He is also young. Entering his fourth year in the league he is just 23 years old. That means he could have a lot of years of football ahead of him if he can make the jump from good to great. TY Hilton sees his potential and issued a challenge to him earlier this off-season saying, “If you want that money, go ahead and go get it.”

It is also worth noting that in 2015 he was one of the few things on the field worth watching, consistently making catches for both Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck when the rest of the offense seemed to evaporate. TY Hilton, who had a brilliant 2016, had previously made a habit of living up to his ghostly nickname and disappearing for games throughout his career. This happened notably against teams who employed a double team and put a big, physical defensive back on him and knocked him around. That is when your number two receiver absolutely has to shine, and for the most part, Moncrief delivered.

When 2016 rolled around, many of us had high expectations for Moncrief’s jump to the next level. From the tale of the tape, he has all the characteristics you look for in a prototypical number one receiver. His size, speed, and hands are all exactly what you look for. He doesn’t shrink away from contact and has the ability to make people miss and break tackles after the catch. Most importantly, he is a capable red zone target. But a shoulder injury knocked him out for five weeks, and a nagging hamstring kept him from being as effective as he should have been late in the season. There was no point in the 2016 season where he really looked like the Moncrief we had seen in 2015.

This year will be the one that answers the question of just what kind of player the Colts have in Donte Moncrief. Year four was when Reggie Wayne emerged as a guy who would only play second fiddle to an all-time great. Assuming that Andrew Luck is back and healthy, a big assumption, Moncrief should be primed for a huge season.

Defenses will be forced to key off on Hilton, who led the league in receiving yards last year. That will mean more single coverage for Moncrief, and more opportunity. The motivation should definitely be there. Moncrief is in a contract year, and Chris Ballard did not draft him, so he does not have the personal investment in him that Grigson did. If he doesn’t perform, he may not be around next year.

Late 2015 saw a change at offensive coordinator, and 2016 was a year plagued with injuries as well as adjustments to that new scheme. A lot went against Moncrief last season and he still walked away with 7 touchdowns. This season he will take another step forward and make Ballard’s decision a no-brainer for next off-season. Time to see if the Colts have a rising star or just another guy.

My Prediction: 80 catches, 1050 yards, 9 touchdowns