Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio examines NFL Draft prospect David Montgomery’s ball carrying and reveals where a running back’s depth of step makes or breaks a play.
Every position on the football field requires precise footwork. As footwork training and drills have earned media attention during the offseason, fans are becoming more aware of its importance to a player’s development.
Iowa State runner David Montgomery is one of the agilest runners in this draft — and the three prior. His quick feet help him make a lot of defenders miss in tight quarters. Some of these instances — especially receptions with a defender bearing down within a yard of Montgomery — are borderline magical.
Montgomery is also an excellent tackle-breaker. He has a low center of gravity (if he’s 5’11”, I’m from Vietnam…) and his combination of strength, balance, quickness, and lateral agility remind me of Maurice Jones-Drew (the size and jersey number don’t hurt, either…).
Precise footwork sets the table for this pair of top-notch skills in Montgomery’s repertoire. In this week’s Boiler Room, we examine three plays:
- A failed change of direction because the depth of step is too long.
- A successful change of direction because the depth of step has more control due to an appropriate depth.
- A successful change of direction and athletic application of good depth of step.
As an evaluator with a 15-year track record of quality running back analysis, a good process is more important than a good boxscore outcome of the play when evaluating skill. Contrary to popular belief, many running back skills can be isolated into traits that are independent of the yardage output and offensive line play. When I refer to a player’s action as successful, I’m only referring to a specific cause-and-effect and not the entire outcome of the play. Isolating the film into these small processes creates insightful data.
I’ll have a lot more on Montgomery as the year unfolds. He’s one of the most exciting skill players eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft.
For analysis of skill players, get the 2018 Rookie Scouting Portfolio, now available for pre-order. If you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2018 RSPs at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 each.