Sam Montgomery | Defensive End | LSU | 6'4'', 260 pounds
Coming into his junior season, Sam Montgomery was regarded as one of the nation's elite defensive ends and a prospect worth considering in the top half of the first round.
Before the season started, Montgomery put on some weight, which was much needed for him to stick at 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. But the weight gain didn't do him a ton of favors on the football field, as he played stiff and exhibited far less explosion during his third year at LSU.
In a crowded class of defensive linemen, Montgomery could be drafted anywhere between the mid-first round to the early second round.
Montgomery has the playing strength to hold the point of attack consistently. He has the ideal height and length to play defensive end in the NFL, and his strength allows him to play with leverage, roll his hips on contact and hold his ground in the running game. His height also allows him to see over the line of scrimmage and locate ball carriers. He disengages from his blocks well and shows solid effort in pursuit. His closing speed isn't amazing, but Montgomery shows hustle and knows how to force ball carriers outside to his help. He plays the game with good pad level as well.
Pass rushing isn't the strongest part of Montgomery's game, but he flashes some potential in this area. For starters, he has aggressive and strong hands on contact. That makes him an effective inside pass rusher with bull rushes. He also flashes a quality spin move, though he doesn't use it enough. The agility he displays on the spin needs to be more consistent throughout his game.
While appearing to be one of the more explosive athletes in the country as a sophomore, Montgomery was stiff once he added weight to his frame. He struggles to get enough bend around the edge to be a useful speed rusher. He often times loses balance and is knocked off his line when trying to gain the corner on tackles. Given his strength, he was also stone walled more often than one would like to see and lacked a consistent enough counter move . Many of his sacks were pure hustle plays. He doesn't get a quick jump off the snap and isn't much of a quick-twitch athlete, either.
The disappointing aspect of Montgomery's game is the amount of potential he flashes as a pass rusher. He has shown a few useful pass rush moves but doesn't use them often enough to find his way into the backfield consistently. Whether that was a result of coaching or poor instincts when pass rushing remains to be seen. There is more pass rush potential to be tapped into than some people think.
Montgomery's lack of progression this season was disappointing, but he still has plenty of talent. He appears to be a weak side defensive end at this point due to his lack of pass rushing skills. If he can put on even more weight, he might be able to hold his own at defensive end in a 3-4 defense. His strength and play against the run are his biggest assets going forward.
Pro Comparison: Ray Edwards, Free Agent
Ray Edwards has seen better days in his NFL career. But in his prime, he was a player that could stand his ground and make plays in run defense. Edwards never filled up the stat sheet with sacks, but he was a key part of a dominant Minnesota Vikings offensive line. Given the right role and coaching, Montgomery could succeed in a similar spot.
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