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Film Study: Who Is David Montgomery?

Robert S. takes to the tape to investigate what the Bears’ newest 3rd round draft pick, David Montgomery, brings to the offense.

Valero Alamo Bowl - Iowa State v Washington State Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

As we all know, the Bears made waves last weekend by trading up to select David Montgomery with the 73rd pick of the NFL draft. The 2019 edition of Ryan Pace’s annual “get my guy” trade served to effectively finalize the starting lineup while providing us with the identity of the man who will step into the role that Jordan Howard left behind. And, at first glance, there’s a lot to like about this pick.

Montgomery comes across like a talented back — as a hard-nosed runner out of Iowa State University, he racked up 1,216 yards in his stellar senior season and was called “the reason why [Iowa State’s] program changed” by his coach Matt Campbell. He’s a hard worker, a warrior, and (apparently) the RB Matt Nagy wanted all along.

But what tools will Montgomery bring to the Bears’ offense? What makes him such a good runner? Is there anything that could hold him back? I set out to investigate in this film breakdown!

As usual, if your platform doesn’t display the videos being referenced within the article simply look for the italicized portion of each paragraph — that’ll contain a link to the referenced video.

Without further ado, let’s dive into Montgomery’s film.

When I started watching Montgomery, nothing popped off his tape faster than his ability to change directions. Take a look at this play — Montgomery catches this ball drifting right and cuts back an insane 135 degrees in ~1 second to leave this Iowa defender grasping at air. His ability to change directions is outstanding.

Montgomery also gets in and out of his moves wickedly fast — this Wazoo defender should have him dead to rights on this play, but a quick spin move leaves Montgomery with enough room to find a crease and push forward for ~9 yards. When an RBs makes a move, every second counts — if his spin move had taken a half-second longer here he’d have been tackled well behind the line of scrimmage. The quickness of his moves allow Montgomery to create yardage opportunities that other RBs can’t.

But David Montgomery isn’t just an elusive runner, he’s also a powerful back that will punish defenders early and often. This run shows him rip through an arm tackle at the line of scrimmage and push himself through a defender and into the endzone. He’s a tough, tough man to bring down.

His combination of power and quick-footed elusiveness make him a perfect fit for the Bears’ Inside Zone running scheme — his cutting ability allows him to find and exploit seams up the middle while his power helps him hit those seams ferociously. He also picks through bodies well, displaying solid burst after each cut. It’s hard to understate how good a fit he is here.

But don’t let me give you the impression that Montgomery has no outside game — As can be seen here, Montgomery knows how to properly play in space and uses every tool he has to maximize yardage against a stout Iowa D. Head fakes, stiff arms, hard cuts, he can (and does) do it all.

And, of course, when you need “just one more yard” Montgomery can go get it for you. Watch here as he fights through 4(!) Oklahoma defenders to pick up this 4th and 1 — you should see his elusiveness (again), knock-down power, and a final push from his legs. This is start-to-finish running at its finest.

But remember, RBs aren’t just runners anymore — they’re also pass-catchers, and in Matt Nagy’s offense Montgomery’s receiving ability is critical. While Iowa State didn’t throw to Montgomery much, the little tape we do have shows him running routes well and catching the ball fluidly. His tape isn’t enough to declare him a “good” receiver outright, but it is enough to confidently say that he’s not “bad”.

And for those of you still mourning the loss of Jordan Howard’s pass blocking, mourn no more — Montgomery is solid in pass pro and should be reliable when picking up blitzes in the NFL. Watch here as he identifies the late rusher, squares his shoulders, and stuffs him at the line. I would expect him to struggle a bit early on, but blocks like these make me confident he can grow into the role quickly.

Unfortunately, there is one flaw present in Montgomery’s game — he’s not particularly fast. Plays like this where a faster man could’ve gotten to the edge are bound to happen. He accelerates well and is certainly fast enough to pick up chunk plays, but he’ll likely be limited by his top-end speed.

That said, home-run speed isn’t everything. It’s great!.. but it’s not everything. Montgomery’s ability to identify cutting lanes and burst through them provides benefits that pure speed don’t. This play is a great example of how patient inside running can churn out solid yardage.

Ultimately I’m happy with the Bears’ selection. As I mentioned in this article, the Bears needed a quality Inside Zone runner and I think they found one in David Montgomery. He fits the offense to a tee and I’m excited to see what Nagy’ll do with him.

While his top-end speed may keep him from being a true superstar in this league, Montgomery gives the Bears just what they need to take their offense to the next level. He’s a strong back that focuses on making every play a positive play while also possessing the agility to turn any play into a chunk play. He joins a Bears’ team that is loaded with speed at every position and now commands respect on all forms of runs.

He’s a good pick, and I can’t wait to see how he looks in navy and orange.

What do you think of Montgomery? Good pick? Bad pick?