Moncrief could be first-round pick

Some projections say Donte Moncrief would fill a need for San Francisco, Seattle and Carolina, among others. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Some projections say Donte Moncrief would fill a need for San Francisco, Seattle and Carolina, among others. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

By Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

The buzz from Donte Moncrief’s combine could get him into the first round of the NFL draft, Mel Kiper said last week.

The ESPN analyst, however, isn’t ready to predict a change in status to that lofty degree for the former Ole Miss wide receiver.

Moncrief, who left Ole Miss with a year of eligibility remaining, had been projected a third- or fourth-round pick before the combine.

According to Kiper, there were a handful of factors beyond Moncrief’s control that contributed to lesser numbers for him as a junior than as a sophomore, but those factors can’t be completely forgiven.

“The freshman (Laquon) Treadwell did a nice job, the quarterback play was erratic. I get all that,” Kiper said, “but he’s one of those guys that you did not see perform at his level of talent on a week-to-week basis. He flashed it, but he had some drops, and he was not as explosive.”

Moncrief had 59 catches for 938 yards and six touchdowns as a junior compared to 66 catches for 979 and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore.

He ran a 4.40 40-yard dash, had a 39.5-foot vertical jump and an 11-foot broad jump at the combine.

His 40 time tied for third-fastest among receivers, and his broad jump was the best at the position.

Moncrief measured at 6-foot-2, 221 pounds.

“Donte Moncrief is an enigma,” Kiper said. “He’s an incredible talent … big, athletic and fast. You would have thought he would have been able to dominate college cornerbacks. I watched him a lot and kept waiting. I had a high grade for him at the beginning of the year, in August, anticipating a top 10 or 15 pick for him, but he did not materialize.”

Reflection on Rebels

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze would love to have had Moncrief for one more season, but he thinks having Moncrief drafted as highly as possible is important for the Rebels’ program.

He says the draft is a measure of where he is in building the depth necessary to compete in the SEC.

The draft is May 8-10 in New York.

“We’ve got evidence as to kind of where we are if you look at the NFL draft possibilities,” Freeze said. “We’ve gone two years without having a draftee. It looks like we’ll at least have one this year. We’ve got to get that changed. We’re on our way to doing that.”

Seattle, San Francisco and Carolina are teams that could be looking for a wide receiver of size and physicality and could be tempted to draft him in the first round if they believe he won’t be available when their second turn comes around.

“All those are late first-round picks that could be in play,” Kiper said.

Kiper doesn’t rule out the first round for Moncrief but also doesn’t see it as likely.

“If he doesn’t go late first round, which I think is borderline, he’ll go somewhere in round 2.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com