When the Bears drafted David Montgomery in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the selection was viewed as a perfect marriage between his skill set and Matt Nagy's offense. Montgomery was expected to do for the Bears what Kareem Hunt did for Nagy and the Chiefs when Hunt led the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2017.
No, Montgomery didn't have the kind of statistical success that Hunt enjoyed that year, but he did have a productive first season that has his arrow clearly pointing up.
Montgomery ended 2019 with 242 carries for 889 yards and six touchdowns, including two 100-yard games and a season-finale performance against the Vikings that totaled 113 yards and a score.
At first glance, Montgomery's 3.7 yards per carry isn't an elite number, but he earned every inch of his production over 16 games. He finished the season eighth in the league with 47 broken tackles and ranked in Pro Football Focus' top-50 rookies of 2019.
37. RB DAVID MONTGOMERY, CHICAGO BEARS
The former Iowa State Cyclone broke 47 tackles on rushing attempts this year, the eighth-most among running backs. Despite this, it really wasn’t the best decision to trade up for him in the NFL draft considering the positional value and lack of breakaway runs (only 15.0% of his carries went for 15 or more yards in 2019, 45th among 50 qualifying backs).
The Bears are entering the 2020 offseason with needs to fill along the offensive line, and there's an argument to be made whether the need is stronger at offensive tackle or guard. The fact this debate even exists is proof of how much the offensive line struggled in 2019, which further illustrates just how encouraging Montgomery's year was.
Chicago's offense will be a focal point of GM Ryan Pace and Nagy over the next several months. A quarterback competition is likely, and a new starter or two along the offensive line is possible.
The good news? The Bears have Montgomery, and he's the kind of hard-working, high-character talent the team can build their running game around.