David Montgomery was desperate to get the pads on in training camp. He wanted to show people what he could do. Yeah he was a 3rd round pick, but he is a far better football player than his draft position says. He certainly made quite the first impression in training camp, delivering a Beast Mode-type of run against the Chicago Bears defense that turned a lot of heads. The preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers offered the latest opportunity. This time to a more widespread audience.

He didn’t disappoint. During one drive in the 2nd quarter, Montgomery took over the game. With the Bears trailing 6-0, he went to work. After a holding penalty made it 1st and 20, the running back took a screen pass 23 yards for a 1st down. Not long after he ran up the middle on a play that should’ve been stopped for no gain. Instead he literally ducked under a defender and plowed forward for four yards. The icing on the cake came on the final play of the drive.

There he overcame poor blocking by the offensive line by sidestepping a wall of defenders and bursting to his left for a 7-yard touchdown. It was a thrilling bit of work. So much that Bucky Brooks of NFL.com gave him the highest grade of any rookie for week 1 this preseason.

“I don’t know if the Bears are passing out game balls after preseason games, but No. 32 deserves one following his impressive showing against the Panthers. Montgomery tallied 46 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on six touches while exhibiting the silky smooth running style and dynamic pass-catching ability that made him a star at Iowa State. Not only did Montgomery look like an RB1, but he might be a sleeper candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.”

David Montgomery is already looking like another steal

GM Ryan Pace already has an established reputation for finding gems later in drafts. Adrian Amos, Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen, and Bilal Nichols are some of the biggest examples. Players taken in the 4th round or later who have since become starters in the NFL. Jackson and Cohen are All-Pros. Some think Montgomery is going to be special in this league. Early signs are promising. If that’s the case, it will only add to Pace’s legacy.

For his part, Montgomery was one of just three drafted players who earned an “A” grade from Brooks. The other two were #1 overall pick Kyler Murray and 2nd round pick Deebo Samuel. That’s pretty impressive and a good reminder of what the Bears got. Montgomery was seen by many as arguably the best running back in the draft. To get him as late as they did, even after a trade up is football business at its finest.