Is Chicago Bears David Montgomery best RB from his draft class?

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the more interesting things that came up from digging into the first three seasons of David Montgomery with the Chicago Bears is that his production is very similar to Josh Jacobs. If you remember the 2019 NFL draft, you remember that the Bears were hard-pressed to find a running back, and they did extensive work on the entire class.

Josh Jacobs was drafted in the first round, and then after Miles Sanders and Darrell Henderson were drafted the Bears traded up for Montgomery, ensuring to get him before Devin Singletary who went the next pick.

The top 100 rounded out with Damien Harris and Alexander Mattison. The only other notable names from that class are Tony Pollard and Myles Gaskin. Now that we have three years of evidence, it is worth looking into the three backs that went before Montgomery as well as the five that went behind him to see how he compares.

Overall, it is tough to compare when Jacobs and Montgomery have 839 ad 835 touches respectively. From there, the next highest is Singletary with 602 touches. Gaskin, Pollard, Mattison, Henderson, and Harris all have under 450 touches, so they are nowhere near Montgomery.

You can say that had Mattison, Harris, or Pollard landed in different spots it could be a stronger comparison, but for now, they cannot be ranked ahead of Montgomery when they are half as productive. Gaskin and Henderson have enough touches where we can probably agree that Montgomery was the better bet, even if injuries are the reason for Henderson.

Still, this leaves us with Singletary, Sanders, Jacobs, and Montgomery as the four backs who saw enough work to be considered the top in the class. Below you can see how these four compare in some advanced metrics.

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There show questions in the profile of Montgomery. You can blame the offense, and the line all that you want, but Montgomery has the lowest yards after contact and lowest breakaway run rate.

We knew coming into the NFL that Montgomery was not the breakaway runner, but he was supposed to be much better after contact. He does show well in forcing missed tackles, but even in that area, he is not quite as close to Josh Jacobs as you would want.

Montgomery is not extremely productive in the passing game, either, but some of that can be a product of the offense. Still, looking at this does make it hard to say that Montgomery is better than Josh Jacobs.

Even though Jacobs has had a better line he also has been better at breaking tackles, getting into the open field, and catching passes.

You could say that Montgomery having over 200 more carries than Sanders and Singletary for over 400 yards more than both shows he has been better, but even then, Montgomery has 14-17 more catches than these two for 230 more yards than Singletary and 60 more yards than Sanders.

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As a rusher, he is a bit more trusted than Sanders, and as a pass-catcher more productive than Singletary. Still, these are two players that would be interesting to see get similar volume to Montgomery, to see if they could hold up the same.

Either way, of the top nine running backs, from a combination of efficiency and production you could rank them

  1. Josh Jacobs (Drafted 1st)
  2. David Montgomery (4)
  3. Miles Sanders (2)
  4. Devin Singletary (5)
  5. Tony Pollard (11)
  6. Damien Harris (6)
  7. Alexander Mattison (7)
  8. Darrell Henderson (3)
  9. Myles Gaskin (25)