The running back position is becoming devalued in today’s NFL, which is centered around the passing game. Despite that, the Chicago Bears selected David Montgomery in this year’s draft.
The Bears used the 73rd overall pick to take Montgomery in a draft that seemingly wasn’t littered with any superstar running backs. In recent seasons, we’ve seen Saquon Barkley, Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alvin Kamara take the NFL by storm in their rookie seasons.
Can Montgomery become the next in a long line of great rookie running backs this season? There should be plenty of opportunities for Montgomery to thrive in Matt Nagy’s offense this year.
Earlier this offseason, Chicago traded Jordan Howard to the Philadelphia Eagles, creating a vacant spot in the offense. Howard spent three seasons with the team, rushing for over 1,000 yards in two of them.
Last year, Howard struggled to adjust to the new offense under Nagy and had the worst season in his career. Howard started in 15 games and received the bulk of the carries, but was inefficient with his touches. Furthermore, Howard was given 270 total touches but averaged just four yards per touch.
Someone has to replace the production of Howard in 2019. The Bears have a few running backs who could operate with Mitch Trubisky in the backfield.
Tarik Cohen emerged as a dangerous weapon for the Bears, but he isn’t built to handle a substantial workload on the ground. Cohen stands at 5-foot-6 and is 150 pounds soaking wet.
As a result, Montgomery is expected to handle the vast majority of the rushing duties in Chicago’s offense. Montgomery is comfortable sustaining a hefty workload; he had 624 carries in college at Iowa State. The Bears’ rookie running back displayed an ability to be a receiving threat with 71 receptions in his collegiate career.
Along with Montgomery, Cohen will be used in a similar role as in 2018. Cohen was used all over the field, catching 71 passes and scoring eight total touchdowns.
Nagy is of the new fleet of coaches which believes in throwing the ball as many times as possible. Yet, even he understands that he will need to run the ball effectively for his offense to succeed.
Most recently, Saquon Barkley was making jawdropping plays out of the backfield in his rookie campaign in 2018. Barkley totaled 2,028 yards from scrimmage (leading all RBs) and was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Montgomery may not be the athlete Barkley is, but he has an opportunity to be a difference-maker for the Bears. At the same time, it’s tough to envision Montgomery replicating Barkley’s 2018 season. However, that doesn’t mean Montgomery can’t join Barkley as one of the league’s best running backs.
The Bears are hoping to move past their loss in the NFC Wild Card Game from 2018. As everyone knows, Cody Parkey double-doinked the ball off the uprights, missing a 43-yard field goal that would have enabled Chicago to advance. Even now, fans in Chicago are disgusted with how the game ended.
Nonetheless, Chicago reloaded this offseason to improve upon last year. Adding Montgomery—among others—should help Trubisky take another step forward in his third season in the NFL. The defense is expected to be dominant once again; it’s all about the offense now.
With running the ball becoming a lost art, Montgomery may be the next rookie rusher to ascend to stardom in the NFL.