Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for 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 move forward.
Player: WR Donte Moncrief
Stock Value: Down
Here’s hitting on the obvious, but boy is Donte Moncrief’s stock down after an ugly debut for the Steelers. On 10 total targets, at least four of which that he failed to complete hit his hands at some point, the sixth-year veteran mustered up a whopping three receptions for seven whole yards.
The performance already has many wanting to see him benched, or at least demoted in favor of James Washington and Diontae Johnson, a pair of young players added in the early portions of the draft over the course of the past two seasons.
After the game, Moncrief called the showing a wake-up call, and one that they needed, but perhaps he needs it most of all. His tenure as the team’s number two receiver, at least in my opinion, should be considered tenuous and relative to the advancements of the aforementioned young players. As they earn more playing time, his workload will correspondingly be reduced.
That is unless he can produce, and outproduce his competition, which means a significantly improved performance beginning on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. The New England Patriots did do a great job of playing the catch point and attacking the ball as it was in his hands, but he needs to secure those catches, especially given that size is a part of his game.
At not point during Sunday’s game did the offense ever really look all that comfortable. Moncrief is supposed to have a deep element of his game, but that was pretty much non-existent in the opener. That needs to be introduced going forward, for both his sake and the offense’s.
At the same time, it’s important not to overreact to one game, and one also has to wonder if his difficulties securing catches could be related to the linger effects of a finger injury that he suffered in training camp and saw him catching passes with only one hand for a while.
No matter what the reason, or the cause, he simply has to do better. Much better.