Best Scheme Fit: Three-down
back in a power-running scheme; while he likely lacks the speed
to get to the edge consistently against NFL defenders, he has
the vision and lower body strength necessary to run in between
the tackles and move the chains.
Physical downhill runner with high-end contact balance/lateral
quickness (0:00, 1:15,
3:13, 3:36, 3:53, 6:47) with a bit of a mean streak
(4:55, 5:06, 5:28, 7:21); led college football with
185 missed tackles forced over the last two seasons per Pro
Not purely an inside runner; while he lacks explosiveness
as a whole, he has enough juice to occasionally beat the defender
to the edge. (0:00, 0:40,
1:39, 2:01, 3:22)
Has a good feel for anticipating where the hole will open,
patient enough to wait for it and sudden enough to exploit it.
(0:40, 2:22, 2:36, 4:20, 4:55, 5:34)
Although not lightning-quick, he has the ability to stack
moves together once he reaches the second level of the defense.
Durability and dependability (did not miss a game in three
seasons and only lost two fumbles in 573 offensive touches over
the last two years).
Underutilized as a receiver (especially in 2018) but makes
himself a viable target when asked to leak out (2:58,
3:05, 9:15), routinely lined up in the
slot (0:09, 4:55, 5:51) or out wide (5:25); creative NFL play-caller
will take advantage of this versatility.
Able to identify, square up and neutralize his man in pass
pro. (0:33, 2:10, 4:31, 7:45)
Overall lack of burst; more of a grinder whose balance, power
and instincts help him avoid negative runs.
Play speed better than timed speed but did not break a 40-yard
run in 257 carries last season and was the only back at the
NFL Combine without a touchdown of 20-plus yards.
Riding the fine line of having proven he can handle a full
workload at the college level (20-plus carries in 13 of his
last 19 games) and perhaps being slightly overused (695 career
In addition to potential heavy college workload concerns,
running style opens him up to punishment on nearly every play.
For all of the times he was able to "save" a run,
he displayed the occasional tendency to try to make something
out of nothing when the better option would have been to live
for another down. (3:04, 4:55, 5:30)
If evaluators can look past the lack of big-play ability, the
team that drafts Montgomery is going to land a highly versatile
back capable of stealing the opponent's soul late in games. He
runs with impressive power and is going to win the physical head-to-head
battle with a linebacker much more often than he will lose it.
There are elements of Marshawn Lynch and Kareem Hunt in his game,
although I hesitate to say any rookie is as powerful as Lynch
was in his prime, and I know he lacks Hunt's burst. Nevertheless,
Montgomery is in their class when it comes to contact balance,
ability to run inside and handle a heavy workload, and that alone
is more than enough to make him worthy of a Day 2 selection. He
is at his best running in between the tackles and should have
no problem operating as his team's short-yardage/goal-line back
While the team that drafts him will likely want to occasionally
pull him on passing downs to get a more explosive player on the
field, it's fair to question if that is a smart move considering
he is a solid blocker who can line up all over the field and serve
as a mismatch against a linebacker. To that end, his own coach
(Matt Campbell) has reportedly told NFL coaches and general managers
this spring that Montgomery was the best slot receiver on the
team this year. His workload to this point is probably a bit of
an overrated concern, but it makes for an interesting discussion
nonetheless because it's fair to wonder how long he can last without
breaking down - given the ferocity with which he runs - and how
many years after his rookie contract he can maintain his level
of play. Lynch was able to handle the rigors of his playing style
for the bulk of his career, but there are many others that cannot
say the same.
Montgomery projects to be a bit of a rare breed in that he should
be a physical inside runner who is capable of catching 50-60 passes
but still disappoint because he can't turn many (or any) of his
medium-sized runs into long touchdowns. Does that mean he can't
be a very good NFL back? Of course not. However, it will probably
take him out of first-round consideration, as backs drafted among
the top 32 picks in today's game should be players who don't need
to come off the field AND can deliver big plays on a semi-regular
basis. At worst, Montgomery should be the powerful half of a running
back committee (much like Mark Ingram has been in recent years).
His upside is that of a low-end feature back, albeit one who could
explode if he lands with a team with the supporting cast capable
of emptying out the box to accentuate his inside running ability
and featuring his receiving skills (Kansas City would be a great
fit, in my opinion).
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.