Rookie running back David Montgomery doesn’t say a whole lot. But the third-round draft pick from Iowa State hasn’t had to be very vocal to impress the Bears on and off the field.
“He’s introverted,” said coach Matt Nagy. “He’s quiet. But he’s so driven, and you can just see how competitive he is and he wants to be perfect on every single play. He’s going to practice the way he plays and he’s making plays.”
Because all offseason workouts are conducted without pads, the majority of plays in practice are passes and not runs. Throughout two minicamps and 10 OTA workouts, Montgomery has shown excellent receiving skills and route-running ability. But his greatest attribute is probably his ability to bounce off defenders and break tackles, something he’ll be able to show when the pads come on in training camp and the preseason.
According to Pro Football Focus, Montgomery led the nation in forced missed tackles each of the past two years in college with 109 in 2017 and 100 in 2018.
During a recent discussion with Montgomery, Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly was surprised to hear the 5-10, 222-pounder say that he couldn’t wait for the full-contact practices in Bourbonnais.
“This is a rookie going through his first OTAs and his focus is putting on football pads and doing real football,” Kelly said during a panel discussion at last weekend’s Bears100 Celebration, “He was like, ‘I just want to prove and show people what I can do.’ In my mind I’m thinking, ‘You’ve been doing that every day in practice.’ But in his mind he knows that there’s another level that he has once these pads come on, so that’s an exciting part about that kid.”
The Bears traded up 14 spots in the third round to select Montgomery, who declared for the draft following his junior season. He played in 37 games the past three seasons at Iowa State, rushing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns on 624 carries and catching 71 passes for 582 yards. Last year he appeared in 12 games, rushing for a career-high 1,216 yards and 13 TDs on 257 attempts and had 22 receptions for 157 yards.
“Montgomery is the quintessential Chicago Bear running back,” director of college scouting Mark Sadowski said at the Bears100 Celebration. “He’s played in the elements. His vision, his ability to make you miss, his ability to break tackles, he’s a perfect fit for what we were looking for and we were all excited that he was still there. Ryan [Pace] has a philosophy: ‘Let’s be aggressive, let’s go get him.’ We knew he was a perfect fit. We all liked him, coach [Matt Nagy] loved him. We went and got him. We were aggressive.”
Montgomery’s versatility appealed to the Bears, who want to keep opposing defenses guessing with running backs who can make plays as a ballcarrier and receiver.
“It’s extremely important when you line up on Sunday that you’re not predictable,” director of player personnel Josh Lucas said at the Bears100 Celebration. “No matter what formation you’re in and what personnel’s on the field, you never want to be predictable. So when you have a running back that doesn’t excel at running routes and creating mismatches on the perimeter in the pass game, it makes you predictable.
“[Montgomery and free-agent acquisition Mike Davis] both fit the mold that it doesn’t matter when they’re on the field—first, second or third down—they have the flexibility and versatility to run all the plays, and I think that will show and help us progress this year offensively.”