Ryan Pace paid a hefty price for David Montgomery. Will it be worth it?
It was no secret to anyone in the NFL that the Chicago Bears would be selecting a running back (and as it turns out, they selected two) in the 2019 NFL Draft.
With Mike Davis the only back on the roster that could handle a traditional workload, there was no question that Ryan Pace would be looking for a running back in one of his mid-round picks to make sure they had another capable back on the roster.
As the third round played out, only two running backs had been selected through the first 69 picks, but when the Los Angeles Rams selected Darrell Henderson, Pace clearly felt he needed to make a move and traded up with the New England Patriots to grab David Montgomery.
Some analysts felt Montgomery was the best running back in the class, so snagging him at 73 seems like a quality value. But what about the price to move up 14 spots?
The Bears sent 87 back to New England, which is obvious, but in return for the downgrade, the Patriots upgraded the 205th overall pick (6th round) to the 162nd overall pick (fifth round) and also received a fourth round pick from the Bears in 2020.
When you look at the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart, the Bears upgraded their third round pick by 70 draft points, the downgrade from a 5th to a 6th rounder covers almost 20 of those points, so to make up the rest of the offset value, the Bears had to send a fourth rounder in 2020 to make up the rest of the value. By the Johnson scoring system, the Bears got good value.
The Rich Hill trade value chart is a revised value system based on more recent trades. His system says the Bears upgraded their third rounder by 17 points, the 6th to 5th rounder covers 5 of those points, and the 2020 fourth rounder makes up the other 12. By the Hill system, the Bears overpaid.
The bottom line is that the Bears significantly downgraded a 2019 pick (a fifth becoming a sixth is a large drop off in value), and are giving away a valuable pick in 2020 (we’ve seen what Pace can do with fourth rounders) to grab Montgomery.
Montgomery is a solid pick and most draft analysts feel he will be a solid pro. But to give up a good amount of draft capital for this trade, Montgomery needs to be far more than a solid pro. He cannot just be a cog in Nagy’s system. Montgomery must become a special player.
There were simply too many running backs remaining that fit Nagy’s system and would have been readily available at 87. In fact, there were still plenty of quality backs left when the Bears picked in round 4 as well.
Running back is the least valuable position of the 22 every down spots. It’s a position that can be replaced almost seamlessly. Not only is the difference in running backs minimal, it’s also a position with a very short shelf life.
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Pace is an aggressive GM which is the best kind of GM to be. He targeted the guy on his list and made sure he got his man. But to do that, he lost out on the opportunity to draft one, maybe two key contributors to this roster.
For that price to be worth it, Montgomery better not just be a part of Nagy’s system, he better become a star in Nagy’s system.
If Pace snagged another great pick, the argument made in this article is moot. But if Montgomery is just another solid back, you cannot justify the price paid to draft a running back.
If Bears fans are going to laugh (and justifiably so) that Jon Gruden used the first pick received for trading for Khalil Mack on a running back, than the same Bears fans can’t like the idea that Pace forfeited a chance to draft another Jordan Howard or Adrian Amos this year, and another Eddie Jackson or Tarik Cohen next year, to move up 14 spots to select the running back he wanted.
Time will tell if this was a wise move by Pace, but one thing is certain, the margin of error for Montgomery is quite small, and the Bears better start reaping the benefits of this selection in week one against the Green Bay Packers.