I acknowledge this will automatically be an unpopular opinion, but hear me out. Let's wait and see how Donte Moncrief will develop as a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season.
Let's start with expectations for Moncrief. First, the Steelers did not bring him in to be a No. 1 receiver. Moncrief was brought in to be a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver and thrive behind JuJu Smith-Schuster and possibly James Washington, depending on how fast Washington develops this season. A capable No. 2 receiver should bring in anywhere from 600-800 yards on the season with about 7-10 touchdowns. Let's take a look at what he has accomplished in his NFL career thus far.
Donte has spent most of his time in the league with the Indianapolis Colts. During his tenure there, he only had one stable season where both he and Andrew Luck were healthy for the entire season; 2014, his rookie season, was the only season where both he and Luck played all 16 games. He is a former third-round pick, so being a rookie behind both T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne did not allow Moncrief to earn as many targets and receptions as a typical No. 2 receiver. During that rookie season, Moncrief gained 444 total yards off of 32 receptions and three touchdowns while averaging 13.9 yards per catch.
2015 was the year where Luck played less than half the season and the starting quarterback on the team for the biggest chunk of the time Luck was injured was Matt Hasselbeck. Despite having a backup quarterback under center for most of the season, Moncrief was the Colts' No. 2 receiver that year and hauled in 733 yards with six touchdowns in his second season for an average of 11.5 yards per catch.
In 2016 and 2017, Moncrief was out for half of the first season and one-fourth of the next season, respectively. Looking at his average per catch instead of overall total yards, in 2016 Moncrief averaged 10.2 yards per catch and still hauled in seven touchdowns in nine games. 2017 he logged an average of 15 yards per catch.
2018 was the year that Blake Bortles was his starting quarterback for most of the season as Moncrief moved to play with the Jacksonville Jaguars. As their No. 2 wide receiver, Moncrief still recorded almost 700 total yards with a 13.9 yards per catch average as Jacksonville dealt with many problems on the offensive side of the ball.
I am not expecting Moncrief to break 1,000 yards and 10-15 touchdowns this season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he was brought in to fill a backup role and do what he has done his entire career: average around 700 total yards per season and have an average of 12-14 yards per catch.
Moncrief has been injured and probably should not have been playing during the first two games. The drops he has had are inexcusable, especially the momentum-turning interception against the Seahawks, but he has even admitted he needs to be better.
Moncrief still has time to turn his season around in Pittsburgh and produce like he has every single season he has played in the league, despite how many games he played previously. Let's wait and see how Moncrief, now a veteran wide receiver, can work through his injury and his slump before fans call him a 'bust'.