Holbrook: Chicago, the team and city, present favorable fits for David Montgomery


Emily Blobaum/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State’s David Montgomery breaks from the pack during the annual CyHawk football game Sept. 9, 2017. The Cyclones fell to the Hawkeyes 44-41 in one overtime.

Trevor Holbrook

David Montgomery found the perfect fit in the NFL.

Over the weekend, the Chicago Bears jumped up in the third round to select the former Cyclone with their first pick in the 2019 draft.

The Bears received a productive starter in college who can play meaningful snaps immediately, and Montgomery received a home where he can earn a large role early on with a playoff-caliber team.

“He’s the whole package,” said Chicago head coach Matt Nagy on the team’s website. “He has the hands. He’s a three-down back. He’s everything that we’re looking for.”

Chicago possessed a need in the backfield, and the Bears filled that need with Montgomery and seventh-round pick Kerrith Whyte Jr. from Florida Atlantic.

That need opened up after the Bears shipped Jordan Howard to Philadelphia after the season wrapped up. Prior to the draft, Chicago’s backfield appeared pretty slim.

Without Howard, the only returning player to receive meaningful snaps for the Bears is Tarik Cohen. Cohen’s not your typical back, dealing more damage in the passing game than on the ground. Cohen — listed at 5-foot-6, 181-pounds — hasn’t surpassed 100 carries in his two seasons in the NFL.

Alongside the duo of new draft picks and Cohen, the Bears feature Mike Davis, a stocky, five-year veteran, who’s tallied 862 yards in his career with San Francisco and Seattle. He joined the Bears on a two-year deal this offseason.

That leaves Montgomery. Montgomery could start the season splitting carries with Davis, and the more successful option could absorb more touches as the season progresses with Cohen presenting an x-factor as a change-of-pace player.

Along with having multiple options in the backfield, Montgomery will benefit from Chicago’s offensive line. Frankly, Iowa State’s offensive line was a weak link in the Cyclone offense last season, but Montgomery shielded some of those flaws with his tackle-breaking ability.

Chicago presents a slightly above-average offensive line, ranking No. 11 at the end of last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Bears also maintain one of the best defenses in the NFL. Chicago was really good on defense last season, especially against the run. With that in mind and Mitchell Trubisky still developing at quarterback, Nagy could turn to the run more this season.

Speaking of Nagy, he coached one of the most common comparisons for Montgomery — Kareem Hunt — as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City. Hunt played college ball at Toledo under Matt Campbell.

“Yeah, there are some similarities, for sure,” Nagy said on the Chicago website. “You look at them and the size of them. You see how they run between the tackles. They are physical. They run angry, both of them. And the other connection is probably just with the background of the coaches that they both had, too. That’s an easy tie there.”

In one season under Nagy, where Nagy took over the play-calling duties midseason, Hunt thrived, scampering for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns.

If Nagy made Hunt standout, he should be able to find success for Montgomery.

Off the field, I think Chicago fans will fall in love with the former Cyclone. There’s already a lot of Cyclone and Bear fans in Central Iowa, but the city of Chicago loves running backs.

Whether it’s Gale Sayers, Walter Payton or Thomas Jones, the Bears have a history of a running back carrying the Chicago offense. Now, I’m not saying Montgomery will have the hall of fame career that Sayers and Payton had or carry the Bears to a Super Bowl like Jones did, but I think he can become a fan favorite for a team that’s had a line of fun running backs.

Lastly, the location of Chicago is favorable. The trip from Ames to Soldier Field is about a five and a half hour drive. I wouldn’t be surprise to see some cardinal and gold in the stands in the NFL’s opener in Chicago on Sept. 5.