But what would they do after those picks passed? It seemed unlikely the Bears would stand pat and wait for their 87th pick -- not with a designed void on the depth chart at running back and with the chance to add another playmaker in their championship window.
"Outstanding production, vision, instincts, contact balance," Pace said of Montgomery. "He's elusive in the hole. And on top of that, he has unbelievable makeup and character. We couldn't be happier to have him as part of our organization."
In the trade, the Bears sent their third- and fifth-round slots for this draft plus a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for the 73rd pick and a sixth-round slot.
The Bears had been making plans for just this ever since the sudden end of their 2018 season, conceding that Jordan Howard was not the fit for Matt Nagy's offense and preparing for a change. Pace scouted Montomgery in the Alamo Bowl on December 28, before the Bears would play their regular-season finale. They would trade Howard to the Eagles for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2020 and continue their diligent work on this running back class.
What the Bears were seeking was a complete running back for their offense who adds a dynamic threat both out of the backfield and also in the passing game. In Montgomery, they selected an elusive runner who forced 185 missed tackles the last two seasons at Iowa State, a record at Pro Football Focus.
What does Montgomery feel he brings to the Bears' offense?
"My ability and my motor not to go down," he said. "Being able to make people miss. Being able to catch the ball."
Howard was a Pro Bowl selection in 2016 and broke the Bears' rookie rushing record, which was previously held by the great Walter Payton. But his place with the organization went from uncertain to clear -- gone -- as he failed to become the complete running back Nagy values.
After going 12-4 and winning the NFC North crown last season, the Bears entered this offseason with few needs on their depth chart. But there was certainly a void at running back after Chicago elected to trade Howard. It forced Pace into an aggressive pursuit for a running back this draft.