Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief: Entering 2014 NFL Draft Following Bowl Game?

Donte Moncrief

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Today could be the final game for Ole Miss junior wide receiver Donte Moncrief, as his Rebels take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Music City Bowl. In the days following the game, Moncrief is expected to decide whether to return to school for his senior season, or take the money and run off to the 2014 NFL Draft.

Moncrief has had an impressive career thus far in Oxford, and is only 16 yards shy from overtaking Willie Green for third on the schools all time receiving yards list. The past three seasons Moncrief has accumulated 2,258 receiving yards on 150 receptions , to go along with 19 TD’s, the latter two numbers both good for third all time in the programs history. Even more impressive is the fact that Moncrief did so with incredible inconsistency under center (Randall Mackey, Zack Stoudt, Barry Brunetti, and Bo Wallace).

Should Moncrief decide to enter the draft, he could go as high as late round one. Many are projecting him as a second or third round caliber prospect, but I’m a little more bullish on him than most. I think he’s got one of the best physical skill sets of any wide receiver in the ’14 draft class. He’s not the biggest (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) or fastest (reported 4.49 40-yard dash), but his overall combination is as good as anyone else’s. He’s got good hands, isn’t afraid to go across the middle, is impressive high pointing jump balls, and is physical at the line of scrimmage getting off jams.

There is a lot to gain by going back to school, however. We can expect bigger and better things each year under coach Hugh Freeze, and next year should be no different. With the return of Wallace once again, and another infusion from yet another highly ranked recruiting class, the Ole Miss squad of 2014 should be an impressive team, especially offensively.

The numbers Moncrief could put up next would probably be the best of his career, and he would absolutely shatter any and all Rebel receiving records. Playing alongside emerging WR Laquon Treadwell would increase the number of one-on-one opportunities for Moncrief, and what should be an improved rushing attack would also help keep defenses honest.

Plus, the receiver class next year could be very thin depending on which underclassmen decide to go pro early. Marqise Lee (USC), Sammy Watkins (Clemson), Mike Evans (Texas A&M), Allen Robinson (Penn State) and Paul Richardson (Colorado) all have either declared early, or are expected to in the coming days, thinning out next year’s class even more.

If Moncrief leaves early, he could be a first rounder, but would fall no further than the middle of round three. If Moncrief sticks around for another year (and risks potential injury), he could be a top half of round one kind-of-prospect.

How Moncrief plays today against the Yellow Jackets likely won’t play into his decision-making process one way or another, but Rebel fans should savor watching Moncrief, because this could be his swan song.

Rick Stavig is an NFL Draft Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on Google+.

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