David Montgomery had a moderately successful rookie campaign, rushing for 889 yards and six touchdowns despite playing for one of the worst offenses in football. Still, Bears fans were salivating for the tackle-eluding machine that terrorized opposing defenses on a weekly basis at Iowa State, where he boosted his NFL Draft stock to the third round.
And that's largely what we got in year two of Montgomery's young career. In 2020, at 23 years old, he totaled 1,070 yards and eight touchdowns which, combined with his receiving numbers, pushed him over 1,500 total yards and got him to 10 total touchdowns. Even with Allen Robinson dominating on the outside, Montgomery was arguably the biggest weapon that the Bears had to offer, ranking fifth in the entire NFL in both rushing yards and all-purpose yards. Again, the Bears offense wasn't great, but he was able to carry a large workload and display effective results while doing so. And that elusive, tackle-breaking machine from Iowa State? He was here.
But in the eyes of the public, he's not quite in that elite tier, at least not according to what Montgomery himself hears. He joined the "Type Sh-- Podcast" and discussed his feelings about where he stands among the league's running backs (h/t Daniel Greenberg).
"...People gotta pay. I've been disrespected for far too long," Montgomery said. "They just put other guys [that are] not really messing with me ahead of me. They put me out of the top ten after I just rushed top-five in the league last year. Just a whole lot of disrespect going on. But it's cool, I'll make everybody pay."
Uh-oh. Montgomery was pretty darn good last season. In 2021, with a new, explosive quarterback and with a chip on his shoulder? That could be a recipe for a whole lot of success out there at Soldier Field. And while we haven't seen the top-five placement that Montgomery expects people to see, he's certainly going to be a big name in the NFL and fantasy football communities ahead of 2021.
Former star running back Maurice Jones-Drew is one analyst who is high on Montgomery, though not quite as high as the Bears' third-year stud might like. MJD had this to say about Montgomery in his January "RB Index" rankings at the very end of last season:
7. David Montgomery
Montgomery has played a huge part in Chicago's offensive turnaround in the second half of the season, averaging 99.7 rush yards per game since Week 12 (third in the NFL in that span). Thanks to his second-half surge, Montgomery has recorded career highs in just about every major rushing category and finished tied for fifth in the league in rushing yards.
Will Montgomery's production in the year ahead allow him to take the leap into MJD's and other analysts' top fives? It may not matter; to Montgomery, he's already there.