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The Chicago Bears’ trade up for RB David Montgomery looks like a huge mistake

Chicago sacrificed a ton of draft capital to move up for a running back with one marketable skill — one that is a sign of problems at the NFL level.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

I’m finding myself a bit of a pessimist regarding the Green Bay Packers’ moves this offseason, but thank the universe for the Chicago Bears, who have a legendary, almost preternatural ability to turn a frown upside down. The cause of the current joy is the fact that Chicago entered the draft with three picks in the first five rounds, at 87, 126, and 162. They also have two seventh rounders, picks that matter very little.

They decided to commit several incredible mistakes in one fell swoop on Friday night by doing a bunch of things you should never do. Consider the following:

  1. Trading up outside of the first round,
  2. with the Patriots, who are much smarter than everyone,
  3. for a running back,
  4. who is probably not as good as one they just gave away.

The Bears traded up from pick 87 to 73, giving up pick 162 and a fourth-round selection in next year’s draft. They then used their newly-acquired pick to select Iowa State running back David Montgomery, leaving them with just their fourth-round pick at 126 and a couple of 7th-rounders remaining.

Chicago may feel like they have a great foundation that only needs a few luxury accessories to truly dominate, but in truth they are paper thin. Wasting precious and scarce draft capital on a position that simply doesn’t matter when you could at least be adding depth to important areas is just adding weight to the top of that already heavy playoff window.

As for the pick itself, take a look at Montgomery’s mediocre athleticism to start:

Montgomery was a fine college running back and productive in the running and passing game, but he has several issues that make NFL success far from a sure thing. Anyone who wants to understand the folly of drafting a running back high (not that the third round is particularly high), should read this excellent piece by Bill Connelly. It combines my loving of not drafting running backs with outstanding analysis of Montgomery. Here’s the fun part:

I get that he had to work harder for his yards than backs from blue-blood schools, but there is a massive difference between his career success rate (41.3 percent) and that of other top prospects like Josh Jacobs (56.6 percent) or Rodney Anderson (51.5). Plus, plenty of other prospects have dealt with iffy lines through the years ([Phillip] Lindsay, to name one) but produced success rates far better. As good as Montgomery is at breaking tackles, should he maybe be better at avoiding tacklers altogether?

And that’s the rub. Montgomery’s athletic profile saw him dominating smaller college defenders, but he couldn’t avoid smaller college defenders, and he was too slow to run away from them. Having that many broken tackles is an enormous red flag, signaling a player’s need to break tackles all the time just to be effective. He might be okay, but there are running backs who are at least as good, and likely better, still on the board as I write this.

The Bears dealt Jordan Howard to the Eagles because they saw him as a poor fit, and while Montgomery is a better receiver, he’s probably more similar to Howard than they understand. I’ve thought the Bears were doing a better job of running a front office as of late, but I think they really are enjoying a small renaissance based on a spending spree and some luck. Having lost Vic Fangio and with huge questions at quarterback, this move strikes me as pure hubris from an overly confident GM taking success for granted.

Trading almost all of your draft capital to move up to take a risky player at a position of non-need and non-value is just about the Bearest move I can think of. Thank you to Ryan Pace and company for getting the weekend off to a fantastic start.