Following a dominant performance against Washington State in the Alamo Bowl, David Montgomery has officially declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. The 5-foot-11, 213-pound running back leaves Iowa State with the sixth-most yards rushing in school history. In a draft class without a clear-cut RB1, does Montgomery belong in that discussion?
THE EARLY YEARS
A three-star recruit from Cincinnati, OH, Montgomery received just a handful of offers despite rushing for 6,666 yards and 91 touchdowns as a dual-threat QB/RB. As a true freshman in 2016, he led Iowa State in yards rushing (563), splitting production with RB Mike Warren and QB Joel Lanning. His stats might look unimpressive at first glance, but Montgomery’s 0.41 First-Year Workhorse Score easily surpasses the 0.25 threshold found to be an important factor in predicting future success. He also showed himself to be an adequate receiver with 13 receptions.
2017 AND BEYOND
With Warren and Lanning fading into the background in 2017, Montgomery emerged as one of the most dominant RBs in the county. His 258-1146-11 rushing line accounted for 74 percent of his team’s rushing yards and TDs. Only Denver Broncos’ rookie sensation Phillip Lindsay was better. He also expanded his receiving production with 36 receptions. Critics often point to his 4.4 yards per carry as a reason for concern. But it’s important to note that Iowa State’s offensive line ranked 113th in Adjusted Line Yards per Football Outsiders.
Saddled with poor blocking again in 2018, Montgomery put up a somewhat unspectacular 231-1092-12 line on the ground. His passing game involvement dipped to just 18 receptions, and he again failed to reach 5.0 yards per carry. Based on pre-season expectations, his junior season was a slight disappointment. Let’s take a deeper dive into Montgomery’s profile to see what we can find.
Anthony Amico showed that adjusted all-purpose yards played an important role in his RB breakout model. Montgomery’s limited passing-game usage, his lack of any return-game production, and his relatively low rushing totals all contribute to a lack of a true breakout season. RBs in Amico’s study without a breakout season finished as a PPR RB2 or better at least once in their first three seasons just 12 percent of the time.
|Breakout Age||Total||Hits||Percent Hit||Avg Best PPR|
Montgomery is also at a slight disadvantage in terms of the age curve. Blair Andrews showed that RBs who play their rookie season at age 22 (Montgomery turns 22 in April) produce PPR RB2 seasons at nearly half the rate of their 21-year-old counterparts:
Despite a somewhat gloomy outlook based on the previous two studies, Montgomery does have positive attributes. In 2017 he set the single-season record for most missed tackles forced among both college and NFL RBs according to Pro Football Focus. His Elusive Rating was second all-time behind only Rashaad Penny. And scouts point to his build, body control, and balance as the building blocks to become a modern-day NFL bell-cow.
Questions about his straight-line speed are valid, making his combine performance crucial. But in a class without a runaway favorite for the RB1 spot, Montgomery still belongs in the conversation. Assuming he declares, doesn’t bomb at the combine, and gets drafted, I view Montgomery as a mid-to-late first round dynasty rookie pick.