Third Round: 95th Pick
A three-year starter at right defensive end, Sam Montgomery had a productive and decorated career at LSU. He lacks ideal measurables an every-down defensive end in the NFL should have, but he has the tools to be a productive rotational player for a 4-3 team should he decide to give the effort.
+ Strong, powerful punch with good extension
+ Impressive length
+ Excellent bull rush and overall power game
- Inflexible with stiff, tight hips
- Slow, delayed get-off
Tools ( - )
Montgomery is a powerful 4-3 defensive end with good length for the position. He isn’t an elite athlete, highlighted by average times in the Three-Cone Drill (7.18) and the 20-yard Short Shuttle (4.51) at the Combine. He did show off pretty good lower body explosion, registering a 34.5” vertical jump and 114” broad jump.
Montgomery has never had any arrest or suspensions from LSU. His work ethic will likely be called into question by NFL teams after his name appeared on this list during the season. He also admitted to taking weeks off against lesser opponents during his interviews at the NFL Combine. The LSU coaches were rumored to have been "slamming him" to NFL teams, so he could very well wait a long time to hear his name called on draft day.
Occasionally, LSU would stand Montgomery up on the edge or kick him inside as a defensive tackle, but Montgomery played the majority of his snaps at right defensive end in LSU’s 4-3 defense.
Pass Rush ( - )
Montgomery’s lack of closing speed and flexibility around the edge will probably limit his pass-rushing impact in the NFL, but his ability to use length and strength should make him serviceable as a base defensive end. His movement off the snap is fairly quick, however he is usually so delayed coming off the ball that he gives offensive tackles a head start in retreating in their pass protection.
Montgomery has his most success as a pass-rusher when offensive tackles over-set and give him an inside rush lane, as he has powerful hands to jolt them and keep them off-balance as he rips inside. NFL tackles who don’t respect his speed or flexibility around the edge aren’t as likely to give up these inside rush lanes to him. He will need to refine himself as a length-and-strength rusher and learn to chain moves up and disengage more quickly off of the bull rush.
Against the Run ( + )
With the natural tools of length and strength, Montgomery has the ability to be a plus run defender in the NFL. He shows the capability of both setting the edge and causing disruption in the backfield by driving his man back or by stunting inside. He has shown the strength to anchor against college left tackles, but he is still somewhat undersized for a 4-3 strong-side defensive end and may get overwhelmed by bulk at the point of attack in the NFL. He also needs to greatly improve his get-off, since coming off the ball late allows blockers to get to his outside shoulder and reach him in the perimeter run game.
Tackling ( + )
Montgomery’s power and length give him an advantage with tackling in close quarters. His lack of agility and coordination hamper him however, especially when in the open field or when running himself too far upfield against the run (which he is prone to do).
Use of Hands ( - )
Montgomery has a strong, violent punch. That, combined with his length and lower body strength make it very easy for him to get into offensive linemen and control them with a bull rush. However, he too often gets caught hand fighting with blockers, failing to find the ball and disengage in time.
Montgomery’s physical hand use and lack of elite athleticism on the edge suggests he’ll be a left or strong-side defensive end in a 4-3 in the NFL. He’s a bit undersized for that role at 6’3" and 262 pounds, but he should be able to continue to add some weight and bulk.