With The Detroit Lions In The Market For A Running Back To Compliment Kerryon Johnson, Iowa State’s David Montgomery May Be An Option Early In The 2019 NFL Draft.
The Detroit Lions are going to need to make some changes to their backfield this offseason. New faces are coming, whether it is in free agency or in the NFL Draft. The Lions need depth behind Kerryon Johnson who has struggled with injuries throughout his career, and even with Johnson healthy, they need other backs to share the workload.
David Montgomery from Iowa State projects to be one of the first running backs off the board in the 2019 NFL Draft and, while I personally don’t agree with taking another running back in the first few rounds of the Draft, the Lions may opt to continue to invest in the running game, something that the team has shown intense commitment to.
If the Lions decide to invest early draft capital in another running back, David Montgomery is likely a player that they will be looking at. He has a lot of traits that would make him an ideal complimentary back that could take over a lead role if Kerryon Johnson goes down with an injury. He also could function as the power-back that the Lions desperately wanted LeGarrette Blount to be.
At Iowa State David Montgomery showed ridiculous contact balance. If a defender doesn’t wrap up and drive through, David Montgomery is going to break that tackle. He isn’t a player that will plow defenders over as much as he is one that will maintain balance and keep moving. He pushes the pile well and has very active feet that help him keep forward momentum.
Montgomery has an arsenal of moves, including a decent spin move and an excellent stiff arm. Combined with a good natural feel for defenders in open space, he is able to minimize contact and maximize use of his excellent balance. He anticipates defenders in open field well, and rarely gets caught without setting up a move on the defender.
David Montgomery would be an asset to the Detroit Lions in the passing game, something that I think will probably be a requirement for any back on which they consider spending early draft capital. Montgomery has good hands and has shown the ability to catch the ball outside of his frame on a regular basis. He runs clean routes, especially given that he may not be as explosive as you’d like. His ability as a receiver made his pass protection snaps a little more scarce than most running backs, so the sample size is a little small, but he appeared to be at least serviceable in this area.
Unfortunately, David Montgomery doesn’t seem like an elite athlete. He certainly seems to have a strong lower body, but that doesn’t seem to translate to suddenness in open field, explosiveness out of his breaks, or a threatening level of top end speed. He’s not likely to be a candidate to break off big runs, and he is probably best used working primarily between the tackles.
Montgomery’s vision is average at best, and he can be patient to a fault. It was frustrating watching him dance around in the backfield, only to try and use his middling explosiveness to get to the corner and beat defenders with his speed. It was especially frustrating knowing how much more effective he is when he gets a head of steam and gets upfield. Momentum into the line of scrimmage is what separated many of his better runs from his worse ones.
Similarly, his lack of burst caused issues when trying to create space behind the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t have that initial explosiveness to avoid defenders, create distance and get a head of steam. Penetration ended a number of runs prematurely. Obviously, you hope the defense doesn’t get penetration, but you also hope that the running back can create yardage on his own.
David Montgomery is not a perfect prospect, but in a weaker running back class than we have seen over the past few years, he certainly looks like one of the best candidates to fill a full time running back role and contribute in the passing game. That is what the Detroit Lions need. Additionally, he has the balance and leg drive to convert the short yardage opportunities that the Lions seemed to want to avoid giving to Kerryon Johnson.
While I’m not sure that an early draft pick is the right way to address the running back position in this year’s draft, if the Detroit Lions continue to show a commitment to building around the running game, David Montgomery would be a welcome addition to the backfield.