Let’s take a break from the Bryce Harper madness. Let’s get it back to the Eagles.
Yesterday, NJ.Com’s Mike Kaye reported that the Birds met with Iowa State running back David Montgomery, which got me excited. It got me excited because I watched Montgomery annihilate my West Virginia Mountaineers on more than one occasion.
As such, you need to be wary when judging a player on a small or specific sample size. Likewise, the Celtics own the Sixers but can’t seem to beat anybody else worth a damn as they slump to 37-25 and a disappointing 5th place in the Eastern Conference.
What I like about Montgomery is that he’s a downhill runner and phenomenal tackle breaker, a no-nonsense type of player. I hate to say it, but he really strikes me as a “Philly guy.”
But before getting into specifics, let me back it up a minute and with a couple of contextual notes:
- The Eagles pick 25th overall. I think we’re all in agreement that a defensive lineman would be the right choice with this selection. It’s a very deep draft at DT and DE, so you’re gonna have starting-quality talent fall to the late 1st round in both positions.
- The Eagles definitely need a running back. Right now you’ve got Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, and Boston Scott on the roster, plus Corey Clement returning from injury. Darren Sproles is a free agent and his status remains up in the air.
- Beyond the 25th pick, the Birds have a pair of late second rounders and a fourth. For our purposes, let’s assume they’d make a RB pick with one of those three selections, which means Josh Jacobs (Bama) and Damien Harris (Bama) are both off the board. Devin Singletary (FAU) and Benny Snell (Kentucky) are considered the other top five ball carrying prospects in this draft.
Montgomery, then, pre-combine, is projected to go anywhere from late second round to somewhere in the fourth. Most mock drafts I see have Jacobs coming off the board in the late 1st, then Harris as an early 2nd rounder, followed by various arrangements of Singletary, Snell, and Montgomery. All of that will likely change as we go through testing in Indianapolis.
The 21-year-old junior is listed at 5’10”, 222 pounds and comes off of consecutive 1,000 yard rushing seasons at Iowa State, as you can see after the jump:
4.7 yards per carry as a senior, he can also catch the ball out of the backfield. Zero fumbles across his entire regular season college career is uber-impressive, and while he’s not going to torch teams through open holes, he’s more of a grinder who can shed contact at the line of scrimmage and turn most plays into something positive.
That’s on display in this clip:
This thread shall be titled – "David Montgomery: A Love Story"
— Cody Kutzer (@CKutzerFF) February 20, 2019
That should be a four-yard loss, and it ends up being a 15-yard gain. He makes one guy whiff in the backfield, lowers his pads, breaks a tackle, and picks up a first down.
Similarly, on plays like these, he’s just so good at shrugging off the first contact and continuing downhill when defenders throw half-assed tackle attempts at him:
He was held to fewer than 50 yards twice this season, once against Iowa and once against Texas. The Cyclones couldn’t do much of anything against Iowa, and that was the season-opener, a game in which eventual quarterback Brock Purdy had yet to win the starting job. The Hawkeyes pretty much just tee’d off on Montgomery all game long. It was similar in Austin, where the Longhorns shut down Purdy, made ISU one-dimensional, and were able to limit the run game.
Beyond that, Montgomery went above 4 yards per carry in 8 of his other 10 games, held below that YPC against Texas Tech and Oklahoma. He had seven 100+ yard rushing games this season and five as a sophomore.
Here’s his junior season game log:
He didn’t fumble until the bowl game, which was an entertaining performance from both teams. 26 carries for 124 yards and a touchdown is a nice way to go out.
As far as weaknesses, I mentioned that he’s not a speed burner. Sometimes he’ll miss a hole on the back side as he carries through contact outside of the hash marks. Quickness and vision seem to be the common complaints I see written out in various draft projections. And while he’s a tackle-breaker, he’s not going to shed that contact and burn defenders off the edge. You can angle him down and get him moving sideways. He does not possess what you would describe as “elite” athleticism.
But he really is a volume type of grinder, a guy who can carry the load for you and sort of wear out the opposition. I don’t know if that jives with the Eagles’ recent “running back by committee” approach, but you could argue that Doug Pederson went with that strategy simply because that’s what the personnel dictated. If Saquon Barkley was an Eagle, you’d give him 20+ touches a game. It’s warranted. Likewise, Montgomery does enough in catching the football and pass protection to be a bona fide #1 guy. He also comes with no injury concerns or off-field issues.
Assuming the Birds go defensive line at 25, then look into maybe replacing Jordan Hicks or sniffing around at wide receiver or cornerback with their next pick, they can do worse than using the other late second rounder on David Montgomery, or keeping an eye on him should he fall into the third or fourth round.