Go ahead and try to find any indication that Pittsburgh Steelers free agent signing Donte Moncrief has left anything but a positive impression in any of his interactions over the past several months since agreeing to join the team in March. Take a look. You will probably not find any. He has quickly grown into his new surroundings.
The sixth-year veteran is with his third team in as many years, and has had four different offensive coordinators—and even more primary quarterbacks—working with him at different points during that span, which can make things really complicated for a wide receiver, and for his coach.
According to his coach—position coach Darryl Drake, that is—it’s been a non-issue. As he told Jacob Klinger for PennLive, “he’s been able to distinguish the differences” between the different offensive systems he has run in the past and been able to “go out there and do things that makes my job a lot easier because he has a feel for the position”.
Drake has been around professional wide receivers for a decade in a half in a number of different places, so he has been in about any situation you could imagine, and he indicated that it’s not at all uncommon to bring in a new wide receiver how has played in other systems and found that “those systems start running together” for that player.
It’s a simple reminder of how much of the game of football really is mental as much as physical, specifically at the NFL level. There are not going to be too many instances—or too many players—who will be able to get by simply because they are bigger, stronger, faster, or generally more physically gifted than their opponents. They need to know what they’re doing, and it helps to know why, too.
While he has yet to flourish, it has never been the mental part of the game that has held him back, and in working with Ben Roethlisberger in Randy Fichtner’s offense, there is a reason that so many around the team are optimistic about what Moncrief might able to do with the Steelers that he didn’t catching passes from Blake Bortles and Jacoby Brissett.
For the time being, it appears as though he is projected to be the team’s number two wide receiver behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, and that is at least partly because of the fact that he has already built a good working relationship with the aforementioned quarterback.
Drake told Klinger that not only is Moncrief “playing with a lot of confidence” right now, it’s also the case that “Ben has confidence in him”, something that Roethlisberger himself has mentioned.
“You see a desire and the want to be great”, he said of Moncrief. “I’ve really enjoyed to opportunity to know him and to work with him so far. This is an awesome opportunity that he’s here and we’re getting to work together”.