In the first few drafts of this year’s 10 Most Important Chicago Bears list, David Montgomery was nowhere to be found. It’s not that I’m not excited to see what he’ll do in Matt Nagy’s offense, it’s that I wasn’t sure how big a part of the offense he’d be involved with as a rookie. After kicking around a few incarnations of my top ten, I settled on having the group of running backs listed, but the more I thought about it, the more I zeroed in on Montgomery.
I think Mike Davis will get his fair share of carries, and I’m high on Davis’ prospects in 2019, but I think it’s Montgomery that will grab the most carries among the committee, and therefore I’m putting him at number seven on my list this year.
He’s bringing a dimension that the Bears didn’t have a year ago. Not only can he line up and power through tackles at 222 pounds (Jordan Howard was only 2 pounds heavier), but he has the quickness to makes defenders miss in the hole and out in space. He may not have Tarik Cohen quickness, but his combination of power, quick feet and balance makes him tough to bring down.
Admittedly, I didn’t watch much of his Iowa State film. Reason being, I never expected him to still be available in the third round. Once the Bears moved up to secure him, I started digging more into the player and I really liked what I saw.
His versatility makes him a clear upgrade to the position, and even if he doesn’t approach the 250 rushing attempts that Howard had a year ago, I see him making a bigger impact to the offense. He can line up anywhere on the field, so Nagy’s playbook will be wide open. He can play in tandem with the other backs on the offense and be a mismatch in the passing game if defenses keep a linebacker on him. Imagine if the Bears play Montgomery, Davis and Tarik Cohen all at the same time, will defenses stay in base or sub into nickel or dime?
The perception is that Nagy is a pass happy coach, but Chicago ran the ball the sixth most (by percentage) in the NFL in 2018. Howard’s 250 carries was also the sixth most in the league. When Nagy was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City in 2017, the Chiefs gave rookie running back Kareem Hunt 325 touches and his 271 rushing attempts was sixth highest.
The Bears are going to run the ball better in 2019 and Montgomery will be the catalyst for that, but it’s his all-around skill set that lands him on my list this year.