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Why WR Donte Moncrief makes sense for the Packers as a buy-low free-agent option

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From connections to former Indianapolis offensive coaches, to size and speed, the former Ole Miss star could be an ideal fit.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts
Donte Moncrief has the size, speed, and skill to help the Packers offense and his value may be at an all-time low.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It was the deepest draft on the last decade and could end up being the best class ever. In 2014, 12 players went before Aaron Donald at 13, which seems insane, except half those players are Pro Bowlers and Sammy Watkins would likely make seven if he could stay healthy.

Green Bay made Davante Adams the ninth receiver taken in that class, just ahead of two other future Pro Bowl receivers Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry.

The bill comes due for this incredible class of players this offseason.

Adams already got his long-term extension, while the Dolphins franchise tagged Landry earlier this week. Robinson could be next in line to be tagged.

The 14th receiver taken in 2014 was Donte Moncrief, an athletic Ole Miss product some predicted was a borderline first-round player. Injuries at quarterback and some inconsistent play stunted Moncrief’s development in Indianapolis, and he’ll hit free agency this offseason with his value at an all-time low.

That’s exactly why the Packers could and should pounce.

A 6’2 216-pound receiver with 4.4 speed, Moncrief’s SPARQ score put him just behind Jeff Janis as a size/speed monster in the 90th percentile of NFL receivers. He’s still just 24 years old and won’t be 25 until August. Janis, his draft classmate, profiles very similarly in terms of physicality, but turns 27 in June and doesn’t have nearly as much pedigree as Moncrief, who excelled in the SEC.

New offensive coordinator (who is really the old offensive coordinator) Joe Philbin and new receivers coach Jim Hostler both come from Indianapolis where they got to see Moncrief up close. Only the Colts would have more information than the Packers about what Moncrief can do and how he could help this team.

That’s not to say there aren’t risks.

The 2015 season was supposed to be a breakout for Moncrief when he put up 64 catches for 733 yards 6 touchdowns as the No. 3 receiver with Matt Hasselbeck starting half the season. But injuries kept him to just 21 total games the last two seasons combined and he hasn’t even matched his ‘15 totals in that time in terms of catches and yards.

This is the reason he could come cheap, and why Indianapolis would let a 24-year-old receiver with first-round talent simply walk out the door.

He’s not quite a distressed asset, but he’s close. It’s a buy-low move with considerable upside.

Moncrief represents the kind of home-run swing Ted Thompson was afraid to take. Brian Gutekunst can’t be afraid to take a rip, especially when the upside is so considerable and the risk relative to cost is minimal.

The question will be about fit. Moncrief can bring speed and playmaking to this team, but if Jordy Nelson remains with the team, would he remain outside or go back to the slot where he played for long stretches of 2016 when the Packers could use Jared Cook on the boundary? Does that relegate Randall Cobb to such a tertiary role as to make him essentially obsolete in this offense?

The answer to both of those questions is “yes,” which is why I believe it’s not just possible but increasingly likely Cobb gets cut to make room for a player like Moncrief. Under almost any scenario that involves adding pieces to this passing game, Cobb ends up the odd man out.

That shouldn’t stop the Packers from trying to make this offense better and Moncrief has the skills and the value to be a smart addition.