David Montgomery was watching the NFL Draft with more than 20 relatives and friends at home in Cincinnati Friday night when he received an important phone call.
It was the Bears on the other end of the line informing the Iowa State running back that they were trading up to select him with the No. 73 pick in the third round of the draft.
“We were just waiting for it to come across the TV, and when it went across everybody was ecstatic,” Montgomery said during a conference call with Chicago reporters. “I’m definitely grateful, blessed it worked out like it did.”
The Bears moved up 14 spots to choose Montgomery, sending the No. 87 pick in the third round and selections in the fifth round this year (No. 162) and fourth round next year to the Patriots in exchange for the No. 73 choice and a sixth-round pick (No. 205).
Montgomery declared for the draft following his junior year at Iowa State, where he appeared in 37 games in three seasons, rushing for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns on 624 carries and catching 71 passes for 582 yards.
During the pre-draft process, Montgomery interviewed with the Bears at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and was one of 30 prospects to visit Halas Hall. He was especially impressed with coach Matt Nagy, who reminded Montgomery of Iowa State coach Matt Campbell.
“He’s much like coach Campbell; definitely great people, great human being, down to earth,” Montgomery said. “You can tell that they’re infectious about wanting to get better every day, the mentality that they carry.”
Montgomery runs with strength, vision and toughness. According to Pro Football Focus, the 5-11, 211-pounder led the nation in forced missed tackles each of the past two years with 109 in 2017 and 100 in 2018.
“My strength I’d say is my ability and my motor not to go down,” Montgomery said, “being able to make people miss and being able to catch the ball.”
The Bears are impressed with Montgomery’s ability as a receiver out of the backfield, a necessary trait in Nagy’s creative offense. Montgomery’s 71 career receptions are the fifth most all-time by an Iowa State running back.
“That’s big,” Montgomery said. “I would say that I practice a lot on my hands, but I’m used to catching the ball because in high school I was a quarterback, so I had to catch the ball on every play. We were in shotgun a lot of the time.”
Montgomery told reporters that his grandfather would show him tapes of legendary Bears Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton.
“I watched Walter Payton when I was younger,” Montgomery said. “Seeing how he ran, trying to correlate a lot of the ways he ran into my game.”
Watching from afar, Montgomery liked what he saw from the Bears last season when they won the NFC North championship with a 12-4 record.
“The impression that I had is that they were a great team and they were just flipping the program to get better as a team,” Montgomery said. “Just to be able to have an opportunity to be a part of that is big for me and I’m blessed.”