Poor David Montgomery.
There he was, minding his own business, waiting to be picked in the third round of the NFL Draft. He probably thought he’d go to a team that already had chosen players in the first two rounds. He wouldn’t be an afterthought, but he wouldn’t be the first thought. If he was lucky, perhaps he’d catch a few crumbs of attention falling off the table.
Little did he know there was a massive void waiting to be filled.
The Bears, without a first- or second-round pick and in need of a running back, traded up from the No. 87 pick to take the Iowa State player at No. 73. That’s how Montgomery became the recipient of an enormous amount of media coverage in Chicago, the kind normally seen in earlier, higher-profile rounds. But nature abhors a vacuum, and so does the NFL hype machine.
A couple of things were at work. The Bears needed to replace Jordan Howard. And even the most remedial football fan in Chicago can grasp the importance of running back. It was a match made in hype heaven.
So . . . David Montgomery, The Answer!
Apparently, the Bears had discovered an Armani suit stuffed in a modest rack. Montgomery was portrayed as the guy with all the necessary skills Howard had lacked for coach Matt Nagy’s offense. Once upon a time, Howard was a running back who earned rave reviews. But now? Jordan Howard? Chicago denies knowledge of his very existence.
Just like that, Montgomery has gone from a running back very few Bears fans had ever heard of to a potential starter in his rookie year. We’re told he can get the tough yards, find holes and catch the ball. I wonder if he has trouble recognizing himself in all the flattering descriptions that have fluttered his way.
Not surprisingly, Bears general manager Ryan Pace said Montgomery is “everything you look for in a running back.” A cynic might say that if Montgomery is what Pace says he is, why didn’t a team nab him in the first round, as teams did last year with running backs Saquon Barkley, Rashaad Penny and Sony Michel?
Rule No. 1: Cynics are not allowed anywhere near the NFL Draft.
OK, fine. But it is fair to say that Montgomery is going to be under a disproportionate amount of scrutiny. How disproportionate? Well, after the Bears drafted him, they tweeted a photo of their running backs — Mike Davis, Montgomery and Tarik Cohen — with the heading “Run DMC.” A nickname already? No pressure, kid!
What if all the words that have been devoted to Montgomery the last several days are actually warranted? What if he really is a Kareem Hunt clone, though without the restless leg syndrome when it comes to women?
I would say that if all the good things that have been said about Montgomery are true, anything short of a Super Bowl and a Stanley Cup for the Bears would be a disappointment.
Rule No. 2: Quit being a wise-ass, Rick.
Hype and hope are available in large quantities during the draft. It’s part of the deal. Afterward, each team is ecstatic about its picks. Each general manager can’t believe the player he dearly wanted was still on the board when the team picked. It’s impossible for every general manager to be right about every draft choice, but just try interrupting a GM mid-gush. You’ll get swept away in a torrent of sugar.
Don’t get the Bears started on their fourth-round pick, Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley. How the heck was the talented Ridley still there when it was time for the Bears to pick? They don’t know. They just know miracles are real.
It’s not Montgomery’s fault the Bears didn’t have a first- or second-round pick. I’d even go so far as to say it’s not the media’s fault he has received so much coverage. Everything the NFL offers for consumption sells incredibly well. The media, in turn, sell the NFL, no matter how slim the pickings or picks are. There is air and space that demands filling, and history shows fans will eat it up, no matter what “it” is. If a team doesn’t make its first pick until the third round, fan interest doesn’t seem to wane — especially for fans of a playoff team.
Still, it’s hard to see how Montgomery can live up to this hype. I wonder if we’ve done him a disservice.
I know one thing: He’s no Adam Shaheen.