NFL Draft RB prospects for Bears after David Montgomery goes to Lions
5 RBs Bears may draft to replace David Montgomery originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
With David Montgomery headed to the Lions this season, the Bears are going to need a new lead back. The reported Travis Homer signing seems to indicate that the team is comfortable moving forward with Khalil Herbert as the No. 1 guy now, with the team drafting a rookie to complement him. Of course, each offseason is filled with surprises and the Bears could surprise us again by making a big move to acquire a top-tier rusher to lead the backfield. But if the Bears don’t go that route and opt to fill out their RBs room with a rookie, here are five guys that could be on Ryan Poles’ wishlist.
ZACH CHARBONNET - UCLA
If the Bears want to replace what Montgomery brought to the offense, but on a cheap rookie contract, Charbonnet is the guy. The two backs are nearly the same size (Charbonnet: 6’0”, 214 lbs; Montgomery: 5’11”, 224 lbs) and play a similar game. Like Montgomery, Charbonnet relies on his strength, contact balance and elusiveness to rack up yards, not breakaway speed. He’s an effective pass catcher out of the backfield, and is dependable in pass protection. Charbonnet’s style complements Khalil Herbert well and ensures the Bears have a well-rounded running back room.
TYJAE SPEARS - TULANE
We know Poles values impressive Senior Bowl performances in his evaluation of draft prospects, and Spears was one of the buzziest players this year. He showed great burst and explosive playmaking ability across the entire Senior Bowl week, and Luke Getsy had a front row seat as one of the coaches for the game. Spears produced big numbers in real football games, too. In 14 games he carried the ball 229 times for 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns, and added 22 catches for 256 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
BIJAN ROBINSON - TEXAS
Truly the crown jewel of this year’s running back class. Many draft experts are calling Robinson the most exciting RB prospect since Saquon Barkley entered the league in 2018 and it’s easy to see why. He’s fast, elusive, strong, and can make plays in the passing game. According to PFF, Robinson broke the NCAA record for forcing the most missed tackles in a single season with 104. The previous record holder? David Montgomery. The only thing is that the Bears will probably need to use a first-round pick to acquire Robinson, and they have more pressing needs at more premium positions.
ROSCHON JOHNSON - TEXAS
If the Bears don’t want to use a high draft pick to select Robinson, they could turn to his Longhorns running mate. Johnson is another guy who fits the Montgomery profile. He’s a strong runner who’s hard to bring down, but doesn’t exactly have the top end speed to blow by defenders for home runs. According to PFF, Johnson’s 45% forced missed tackle rate over the last two years leads all running backs in the country with at least 190 attempts. Buzz of Johnson to the Bears picked up when a video surfaced of running backs coach David Walker working with Johnson at the Texas pro day, but fans shouldn’t read too much into that. Coaches go to pro days all the time.
DEUCE VAUGHN - KANSAS STATE
Scouts expected a lot from Vaughn last year after he went nuts with 1,872 all-purpose yards and 22 total touchdowns in 2022. But his production took a hit in 2023, even though he saw more opportunities. Draft experts question his ability to pass protect, which is an area of need now that Montgomery is out of town. But those same draft experts say Vaughn can thrive in a zone rushing scheme like the one the Bears use.
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