If it hadn’t already been there, the writing on the wall showed up when the Bears sent running back Jordan Howard to Philadelphia via trade in late March. With few other offensive needs to address and a deep class at the position, trying to find Howard’s replacement in the 4th round was not much of a shock. What was a bit surprising, though, was the path Ryan Pace and co. took to get there, trading three picks (No. 87, No. 162 and a 2020 fourth) to the Patriots for the 73rd pick (plus No. 205, a sixth).
Trading up for a running back sounds almost taboo in 2019, but given some hindsight -- the Rams traded up to grab Memphis’ Darrell Henderson just 3 picks before Montgomery and FAU’s Devin Singletary was taken by the Bills one pick after -- it’s clear that the Bears were hell-bent on not missing out on one of their draft board’s highest-ranked guys; it’s a luxury well-built teams are able to afford. The Bears’ interest in Montgomery makes sense - not only does he fill what Matt Nagy’s offense looks for from a 3-down back, but his reputation as a high-character guy in the locker room will be welcomed with open arms at Halas Hall.
“He's about as real a person as there is,” Matt Nagy said during his post-draft press conference on Saturday night. “Very authentic, very passionate.
“Everything that he talked about was extremely passionate. And there was a story behind it. There was a why. And I believed everything he said.” (Nagy also gave reporters the cliche about how Montgomery is the first guy to arrive and the last guy to leave, but in this case, it might actually be true.)
Matt Campbell, whose first year as the Iowa State head coach came during Montgomery’s freshman year, was quick to chime in on the Bears selection too:
Well Chicago you just got one of the great heartbeats of CycloneNation! When you demand to be the best daily dreams come true! Couldn’t be prouder or more excited for David! #GoBears— Matt Campbell (@ISUMattCampbell) April 27, 2019
The Bears have already focused much of the offseason on improving a unit that finished the season 19th in running DVOA, though from all accounts it sounds like Montgomery will have plenty of chances to compete with Mike Davis for first team reps when camp rolls around at the end of July.
“It's about mismatches,” Nagy said. “You're using running backs so every running back has his own strength as far as what route he can run. Whether it's a vertical route down the field, he's a bigger target or he's super fast. Some running backs you can put them in empty and they are better in shallow crosses or better with reading routes, and it's not a vertical route or a post route where they beat you with speed.”
“When you have guys that can play all three downs, it's nice for the play caller and it's nice for the offense."
Nagy referred to Montgomery as a three-down back multiple times during the half hour press conference on Saturday night. Though it’s more of a compliment than an analysis at this point, it speaks to just how excited Nagy is to add this type of wrinkle to an already-innovative offense.
“The biggest thing is that you just see who he is as a football player,” Nagy said. “The amount of times that he makes defenders miss inside the tackle box, he extends runs with his sheer power. He has a tremendous ability to feel when that next guy’s coming.”
Throughout the draft process, Montgomery’s style of running was often compared to Cleveland’s Kareem Hunt. Both were coached by Campbell, who was the head coach at Toledo prior to his time at ISU. Nagy certainly sees the comparison.
“Yeah there are some similarities for sure,” he said. “You look at him and the size of them and you see how they run between the tackles. They’re physical - they run angry, both of them, and I think the other connection is just the background of the coaches they both had too.
“He’s going to be his own person, I think that’s the best part about David is that in the amount of talks that we had with him, you get to dig into who he is and he’s going to be David Montgomery - nobody else. I think that’s really important, we love that about him, and I’m excited to see where it goes.”