Now that the 2019 NFL Draft is underway, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: WR Donte Moncrief
Stock Value: Up
The last time that I wrote about Donte Moncrief, we were not too deep yet into the spring process on the field. It was right after the first week of OTAs had been completed, and what I had written at the time was awfully tempered based on expectations for James Washington and in light of the selection of Diontae Johnson.
However, it became apparent in the weeks that followed that, at least for the moment, Moncrief is the clear frontrunner to serve as the team’s primary number two receiver this year across from JuJu Smith-Schuster. He worked with Ben Roethlisberger and the first-team offense through most of the spring and acquitted himself well.
In fact, he drew high praise from Roethlisberger himself, the veteran quarterback saying that it was a good experience getting to know Moncrief, both on and off the field, and he spent a lot of the on-field work testing him to see what he could do, ultimately coming away impressed with his range, his hands, his routes, and his reaction time, as well as his football intelligence.
Of course, that’s where we’re starting off as we head to Latrobe. That doesn’t mean that he is suddenly going to become the player that he has never been through his first five NFL seasons. Accepting the major caveat that he has very little history with quality quarterback play, the fact remains that he has never caught more than 64 passes for more than 733 yards or scored more than seven touchdowns. In 69 games, he has 200 receptions for 2543 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Can he suddenly have a career year with Roethlisberger and this Steelers offense and go over 1000 yards? It’s certainly within the realm of possibility. It will be interesting to see, if he does indeed enter the season as the number two receiver, what kind of playing time the others behind him receives, and how that distribution evolves over the course of the season.