UPDATE: The Chicago Bears drafted Mount Healthy legend David Montgomery in the third round. Read story.
MOUNT HEALTHY, Ohio - David Montgomery is still grasping the fact he likely will be in the NFL very soon.
The reality is, whether he’s on the field, in workouts or in pre-draft interviews, the former standout Iowa State running back and 2016 Mount Healthy High School graduate is ready to prove why he’s the top back in this NFL draft.
“I still haven’t really wrapped my finger around understanding that I am getting a shot to be on an NFL team,” Montgomery told WCPO. “It’s always been a lifelong dream for me. I can remember growing up as a kid telling people, ‘I will be in the NFL one day’ and ‘I will make it to the NFL.’ You know, getting shuns from people and that negative aura and energy from people telling me that I can’t do it, it kind of created a chip -- now it’s a boulder on my shoulder -- to allow me to work hard to be the best I can be every day.”
Montgomery rushed for 1,216 yards and 13 touchdowns in 12 games as a junior for the Cyclones this past season before he declared for the NFL draft in January.
Although mock drafts can vary widely, Montgomery is consistently projected to be selected in the third or fourth rounds. The NFL draft starts Thursday (ABC, Channel 9). However, Montgomery believes he is the top back in this class.
“To myself I think I am the No. 1 running back, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” Montgomery said. “I think just as far as what I bring to the table mentally and physically. Just the mindset of wanting to get myself better but also to bring others with me. To bring that worker’s mentality in the first day I come in and solidify myself as one of the guys who works hard and will always work hard no matter the situation.”
The Sporting News rated Montgomery as the second-best running back in the draft.
NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranked Montgomery as the No. 43 player overall in his top 50 draft prospects (regardless of position).
“Montgomery has an ideal blend of size, vision and short-area burst,” Jeremiah wrote in his evaluation. “On inside runs, he can drop his pads and power through contact or avoid defenders in very tight quarters. His ability to stop/start immediately is unique for a bigger back.”
CBS Sports projected the Houston Texans to select Montgomery in the third round (86th overall).
The San Diego Union-Tribune and Pro Football Focus also project Montgomery to go in the third round with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pick at No. 83. Athlon Sports projects him to go to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 92.
NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter projects the Buffalo Bills to select Montgomery in the fourth round (No. 112) to compete for carries behind LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore.
“When you watch film on David Montgomery you are seeing somebody out there that is special,” Mount Healthy coach Arvie Crouch said. “You don’t see that much. I hope I can get to coach another guy like that, but I don’t know if that will ever happen.”
Beyond the 40-yard dash numbers and the projections, Montgomery said he also will bring a leadership aspect to an NFL team.
“The biggest job interview I’ve ever had in my life,” he said. “Just trying to express to people who I am. How I really care about people and the kind of charisma I have as a human being.”
Montgomery, an Eagle Scout, was the Ohio Associated Division III state offensive player of the year as a quarterback during his senior season in 2015 for Mount Healthy.
Montgomery rushed for 2,707 yards and 41 touchdowns and threw for 726 yards and seven touchdowns in his senior season at Mount Healthy.
Montgomery made an immediate impact at Iowa State, earning honorable mention All-American honors by Campus Insiders his freshman season with the Cyclones.
In 2017, he led the nation in forced missed tackles with 104, and Pro Football Focus named him a first-team All-American.
Montgomery rushed for 2,295 yards and 26 touchdowns during his Iowa State career. He also had 71 receptions for 582 yards.
Montgomery likely will be the second Mount Healthy graduate under Crouch to go to the NFL; Houston Texans defensive lineman Joel Health, a 2011 Mount Healthy graduate, was the first.
“They are not only getting a good athlete, they are getting a good person,” Crouch said of the NFL team that eventually drafts Montgomery. "I’m very confident that whoever gets him – he’s going to be a poster child. He’s really going to be a special player.”
Montgomery is not the only area product who may hear his name called during the NFL draft.
University of Kentucky senior safety Mike Edwards (Winton Woods), senior offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei (Lakota West) and West Virginia redshirt junior linebacker David Long (Winton Woods) are among other area products who are draft prospects.
Edwards, a 2014 Winton Woods graduate, had an impressive pro day April 8 after he suffered a thumb injury in the winter.
"He is a super, super intelligent kid," Winton Woods coach Andre Parker said. "I'm very confident he will get on the field."
Edwards told WCPO he met with a number of teams, including visits to the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals.
"I think you look at Edwards," Kiper said. "I think that is where you get a guy who is a proven playmaker. He is a guy who was a team leader. Mike Edwards. He is around the ball. He can make his presence felt in a lot of ways."
CBS Sports projected Long to be selected by the Chiefs in the third round (No. 92 overall). NFL.com said Long could go to the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round (No. 106 overall). He has met with teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams and had phone interviews with others.
Long said his lateral quickness, speed, power and football IQ are his greatest assets entering the draft. He plans to make a statement starting on Day One.
"I definitely want to be on the field from the start," Long said. "That is definitely the plan."
Long started all 12 games and earned Associated Press All-America second-team honors and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award last season.
He led the Mountaineers with 111 tackles (9.3 per game) and had a team-high eight sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He also led the team with 76 solo tackles.