Coach Matt Nagy is thrilled that the Bears traded up to draft David Montgomery in the third round Friday and can’t wait for the running back from Iowa State to arrive at Halas Hall for next weekend’s rookie mini-camp.
“I think the biggest thing is you just see who he is as a football player,” Nagy said Saturday in his first public comments about Montgomery. “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 is coming, that peripheral vision.
“And then on top of all that, we've just done so much research on all these guys and we’ve always talked about high-character guys, high-character football players and this guy’s at the top of the line with that. He’s the whole package. He has the hands. He’s a three-down back. He’s everything that we’re looking for.”
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.
Solely in terms of his ability on the football field, Montgomery has been compared to Browns running back Kareem Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing in 2017 when he played for the Chiefs. Nagy was Hunt’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City that season, while Matt Campbell coached Hunt at Toledo and Montgomery at Iowa State.
“Yeah, there are some similarities, for sure,” Nagy said. “You look at them and the size of them. You see how they run between the tackles. They are physical. They run angry, both of them. And the other connection is probably just with the background of the coaches that they both had, too. That’s an easy tie there.
“But [Montgomery] is going to be his own person. I think that's the best part about David is the fact that 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 really where it goes.”
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's about as real a person as there is, very authentic, very passionate,” Nagy said. “He came in and we sat down and talked, and I just like digging into a little bit of their personal history. Growing up as a kid, what position did you play, things that you do. We all do it, but it just gets it going. First thing he did was he stood up out of the chair like he was in a major interview and he went through everything about himself.
“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. There was no script to it. It was real and the stories that he had not only on the field but off the field, they make you realize what this kid’s been through. And you appreciate that. You know that he’s gone through a lot of adversity, and somebody that’s been tested in that to see how they react to it. This kid's overcome that.”
Montgomery joins a deep and talented Bears backfield that also includes electrifying playmaker Tarik Cohen and free-agent acquisition Mike Davis, as well as seventh-round draft pick Kerrith Whyte Jr.
“They’re all a little bit different, and I like that,” Nagy said. “I think that it enables us as coaches to kind of figure out what guys do well. We have a good idea right now, but with Mike being new and with David coming in being new and then Kerrith coming in, they all have a little bit of a different mix with exactly what it is. So we're going to test it out and see, and feel it out, but it gives you options.
“They’re all weapons. They can play on every down, you feel good about where they’re at. As coaches, we’ve got to figure out exactly what it is, and then there’s only so many touches, so we have to balance that. That is the difficult part, but it’s a lot easier to do when you have that with these types of guys with different strengths.”