Waiting for the Chicago Bears to go on the clock in the 2019 NFL Draft is a slog I don’t ever want to experience again.
Between the draft-pick capital traded away in the deals that acquired Khalil Mack and Anthony Miller, the Bears didn’t have much to work with when it came to drafting last summer. But as it turns out, they still made the most of that hand.
ESPN and Pro Football Focus teamed up to rank the most productive rookie classes of each of the NFL’s 32 teams, and the Bears’ rookie class ranked EIGHTH (8th). Yes, eighth. As in one of the 10 best rookie classes from the 2019 season. Egads! That’s surprising.
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If you are curious as to how/why this group ranked so highly, look no further than David Montgomery.
Montgomery finished the year with 1,074 scrimmage yards and seven total touchdowns on 267 touches. And in his final 10 games of the year, Montgomery gained 658 yards on 171 carries, scored five of his seven total touchdowns. Extrapolate those numbers over a full 16-game season, and it would come out to a respectable 274-carry, 1,053-yard, 8-touchdown season. And while those aren’t the types of numbers you would expect from a player a team traded up to get, Montgomery’s production presents a stable floor, while also leaving room for growth.
Remember, Montgomery didn’t truly become a featured back until after Week 7. So racking up more than 1,000 scrimmage yards is notable. All things considered, he put in quality work for a rookie who played behind an inconsistent quarterback and disappointing offensive line. No wonder this PFF-ESPN collaboration ranks the Bears’ rookie class so highly. The team’s top pick did all the heavy lifting, which says more about Montgomery than it does about the draft class as a whole.
But still … I can’t help but come away impressed that Montgomery’s production dragged Chicago’s rookie class into the top-10. It makes me wonder how much higher this ranking could have been had Montgomery been given the ball earlier and more often throughout the season. Because even though he closed the season with a 23-carry, 113-yard game, it was just his second 100-yard rushing game and fourth contest with 20+ carries of the season. That simply wasn’t enough for a player who performed in an aspect of the game that was otherwise dreadful throughout the season. So, yeah, he needed the ball more. Full stop.