(percentile rank among all RBs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):
40-yard dash: 4.63 seconds (28th)
Vertical: 28.5” (1st)
Broad: 121” (71st)
20-yard shuttle: n/a
The NFL hasn’t deemed an Iowa St. RB worthy of a draft pick since 1997.
That will change next month.
David Montgomery chose Iowa St. over Illinois, Purdue, Indiana and Marshall, among others. He made an impression on then Toldeo HC Matt Campbell at a high school showcase in Ohio. When Campbell took the Iowa St. job, he wasted little time bringing Montgomery aboard.
Over the next 3 years, all Montgomery did was make Campbell look brilliant.
“It’s hard to put into words what he’s meant to this football program,” Campbell said via The Athletic. “He’s changed the culture of Iowa State football in a really powerful way. The way he carried himself on the field, the way he made himself into the best football player he could become. Really the maturity and character he handled himself with in this community.
I’ve always said when your best players are your hardest workers and they match the culture and expectation that the coaching staff wants, then really powerful things can happen in a program. David was certainly that anchor in us turning around and really beginning to build the Iowa State football program. We certainly wouldn’t be where we are without him and who he is as a person.”
Montgomery made an instant impact as a freshman with 109 carries (5.2 YPC). He broke out over the next 2 seasons, combining for 2,362 yards and 24 TDs on 515 attempts. Montgomery also proved adept as a receiver with 71 career catches.
As you’ll see in the cutups, Montgomery makes good use of a 222-pound frame. Pro Football Focus charted him with 109 forced missed tackles — as a rusher only — in 2017. Then in 2018, he again posted a huge total with 99. Both figures led the country.
Montgomery stayed relatively healthy across 3 seasons. As a sophomore, he suffered an ankle injury that limited him to 4 carries the following week. He sustained an upper arm injury in Week 1 of 2018, an issue that partly explains a slow start. Iowa St. also lost 2 key O-line starters from 2017 — plus O-line coach Tom Manning.
Nevertheless, Montgomery continued to flash a pro-ready skill set.
Games watched: Texas, Iowa, Kansas St., Baylor, Washington St., Texas (2017)
Montgomery frequently draws Kareem Hunt comps for his tackle-breaking prowess. It’s easy to see why, as both 5’10 power backs use excellent leg drive and low pad level to generate yards.
Montgomery passed on the 3-cone and short shuttle drills at the Combine. He's not the most nimble athlete going sideways -- but he shows enough on tape to alleviate any major concerns.
Montgomery's experience shows up on tape, as he displays veteran-like vision and patience. Here's an example of that -- plus another display of his ability to finish.
As a pass catcher, Montgomery's power continues to surface. He's also sure-handed. In the clip below, he takes a hit but bounces off same-sized LB Da'Quan Patton for extra yards.
Montgomery isn’t a flashy talent. Whereas fellow rookie RB Darrell Henderson ripped off 15 plays of 40+ yards in 2018, Montgomery had just one — a 53-yard catch.
His long run went for 39 yards.
But NFL teams value dependability, consistency and durability. Montgomery’s checked each box during his time at Iowa St. And his 3rd down ability — both as a blocker and a receiver — provide an avenue to PPR upside.
Expect Montgomery to come off the board by Round 3 of the NFL Draft. We’ll see about landing spot, but it’s easy to imagine him instantly returning RB2 value. His long-term upside extends into the top-12.