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Cory's Corner: Will Ty Montgomery be a wideout again?

Cory's Corner: Will Ty Montgomery be a wideout again?

The one thing that sticks out to me about the Packers’ draft is the running backs.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson is known to take the best player available whenever he picks. That’s what famously fetched him Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was still a capable and reliable starter.

But the running back position is peculiar because Thompson picked three. He didn’t stick to his best available philosophy and instead opted to add depth to a position that was very thin last year.

With injuries to Eddie Lacy and James Starks, wide receiver Ty Montgomery was called into action as the team’s featured back in Week 6 last season as he rushed 9 times for 60 yards vs. Chicago.

But is Montgomery the reason why Thompson drafted three running backs? Do the Packers have the itch to have him play wide receiver again?

Both questions are completely fair. Montgomery has always been a reliable pass catcher. His lowest game catch percentage has been 50 percent, while Davante Adams notched 14 percent last season after only catching 1 pass in 7 targets in Week 13 vs. Houston. And Adams tallied 18 percent by catching 2 of 11 in Week 12 of 2015 vs. Chicago.

And it just so happens that Adams is a free agent after this season. Adams turns 25 in December and in his three years as a pro, he has shown flashes. Last year, he had his breakout year with 997 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns — both career highs. However, Adams also had five drops and two fumbles.

Perhaps Thompson was forecasting the future. He knows that he cannot have Jordy Nelson ($12.5 million), Randall Cobb ($12.7 million) and Davante Adams earn over $35 million a year in 2018. That’s an expensive slate of starting wide receivers.

So something has to give. And the easiest solution would be to bring in a slew of running backs to offer depth and stability. Then when the rookie backs get comfortable, give one the starting job next season and slide Montgomery back to wide receiver.

And the Packers didn’t just bring in running backs. They brought in versatile running backs. They don’t just run, but they catch well out of the backfield — something that Montgomery also does.

Maybe that’s why Montgomery never changed his old No. 88, because the Packers don’t want to change numbers twice.

The Packers will rarely hand it to Montgomery more than 10 times a game this season. That only happened three times last year and he got less than five carries four times since being handed the featured back role.

The Packers know how valuable Montgomery is to them. They appreciate his willingness to take on a larger role to help the team. But in order to extend his career, his job won’t be as a running back. It will be as a receiver, whose NFL life is an average of four years longer than running backs. It’s kind of like a Major League Baseball catcher moving to first base to care for his knees.

That doesn’t mean that Montgomery cannot get a carry here and there but after seeing the Packers’ depth at running back, the situation isn’t as dire to keep him in the backfield.

The Packers have a selfless gem in Montgomery. Did this draft signal a way to preserve his future?

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (44) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Armand Antonio's picture

I dont see him (Tye) slotted to just one position. He is unofficially a hybrid rb/wr. They took 3 rbs and 2 wrs. That's at least 8 wrs and 4 RBs (w Tye) currently on the roster. I see Adams moving on if he doesnt come close to match his '16 production.

I believe he is most dynamic lined up as an RB.

Packer Fan's picture

I agree. Montgomery is not slotted for one position. He will be the starting RB when the season begins. It is all about creating mismatches and that is what Montgomery brings along with the new TE's. We will see how these rookies develop. With Jackson and likely Michael released, then the rookies will have to step up and contribute immediately. Montgomery will not last a whole season of 300+ carries as the only lead back.

DThomas's picture

"Packers general manager Ted Thompson is known to take the best player available whenever he picks."
Only by those not paying attention. Let's look at the facts:
• The first pick in each of the last 6 drafts plays defense.
• Of the 18 picks in the first three rounds since the 2011 season, 13 play defense.
• After the 2011 season, the first 6 picks of the 2012 draft played defense.

The last six drafts is a good cutoff point because after Capers first two seasons of very good defenses, the Packers 2011 passing defense was historically bad, finishing 32nd in yards surrendered, nearly 300 yards/game. (The 2016 passing defense finished 31st in yards surrendered at about 269 yards/game.)

Thompson obviously picks for need, that's the only way to explain the three bullet points above. Either that or you have to believe the concentration on defense has just been a huge coincidence. Thompson is more disciplined than most as a drafter, but he obviously picks for need, as he and every other GM should. The problem isn't that he picks for need; the problem is his lack of success doing so - or Capers' inability to use the talent drafted. Or a combination of both.

Picking three RBs is just another example of picking for need, not an exception to Thompson's drafting MO. And I think it was a good decision.

David Boden's picture

BAP doesn't always mean you don't draft for need. If players have similar grades, Ted picks the player that addresses a need. If not he'll trade back to were that player is the BAP. That's what happened with Kevin Ling this year. He wasn't the best available so instead of reaching for him the traded back to the spot he was the best available and picked him. When a team picks for need they pick a player they want wheather they are the best available or not and it tends to be a reach pick.

Nick Perry's picture

I think the main reason Thompson drafted 3 RB this season was he doesn't want a repeat of last season...Period.

Lacy came back to TC after OTA's looking WORSE instead of even better. Starks dive was faster than a speeding bullet, and he didn't do anything in the draft in 2016 to protect himself in the event Lacy and Starks turned out the way they did. When week 6 rolled around the Packers played Lacy knowing he had tweaked his ankle yet again. Not only that, Lacy also carried the ball more in week 6 against Dallas than he had in any other game. There went the ankle and the Packers had nothing on the roster to speak of to replace him.

TT said before the draft "They needed more guys in the RB room" before the draft. I think Williams and Jones were picks he planned on making all along, and Mays assured him of having a talented 3rd instead of counting on being able to sign him or another as an UDFA. Ted has "More Guys" now in the RB room, but I don't think it has anything to do with moving Montgomery back to WR. Ty in the Packers "Jack of all Trades", I love him exactly where he is now.

RCPackerFan's picture

This is the first time since 2013 that Thompson has invested true players into the position. He hasn't drafted a RB since 2013. Finally he has decided that restocking the position was a good idea.

After last season's mess at RB I think he decided that it can't be ignored any longer. Just looking back at how big of a mess the position was last year. They started the season with 2 RB's. both got hurt, and were down to Montgomery a converted WR to play RB. They brought in 2 RB's from other teams to try and fill the void, and tried bringing up PS players. And the very last game of the season they were down to a FB and a player that couldn't be trusted to play more then 10-12 plays, after Ty got hurt. Everyone wants to talk about how bad the defense was in that final game. The truth is, the RB position was equally as bad, especially after Ty got hurt.

The players they drafted may not be more then role players, but if they can find roles to help the team, that is all that we can ask for right now.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

The option of Ty splitting out from the backfield in a 12 personnel is going to be a fu%$#ing nightmare for opposing DCs. If they go base one or two receivers is going to be on a LB or if they go nickel, the Packers will pin there ears back and run the outside zone right over the nickel back. There should be no way to stop it without guys like Josh Jones :D

David Boden's picture

Imagine a 2 WR, 2TE set with Montgomery in the back field and Bennett and kendricks as the tight ends. That could be some scary good plays coming out of that set.

croatpackfan's picture

Well, I suppose Ty will be starter as RB. One of drafted guys (Williams or Mays) will be his primary back up, Jones will be 3rd RB and one RB will be on PS.
Your scenario, Cory, may be realistic if all of 3 RB shows possibilities for immediate impact, which will be marvelous, but I doubt in that...

croatpackfan's picture

Also, just to note - I'm sure most of you already knows - Packers released Michael and Jackson and exercise 5th year option on Ha-Ha ($6 mil)...

RCPackerFan's picture

I think Montgomery will do more of what he was doing at the end of last year. RB/WR.

When he was on the field at RB he really opened up the offense. His ability to line up at RB and do virtually everything from there is a huge asset for the offense.

I don't think the Packers drafting 3 RB's means they plan to move Montgomery back to WR. (they did also draft 2 WR's). I think its more insurance if there are injuries with Ty or others.
Williams I think will be a really good compliment to Ty. He will bring an inside rushing presence.
Jones I think is a guy that could compliment Ty as a pass catcher. Perhaps they find a way to use both guys to create confusion for defenses or they will simply use Jones as a relief player for Montgomery when he needs breaks.

The thing that stands out in my mind is the NFC Championship game when they were essentially down to Ripkowski as the only healthy RB they could trust. (And he is a FB). I think that is why they drafted 3 RB's more then anything.

cuervo's picture

Exactly....one of the 4 running backs on the roster WILL get hurt, that's almost a guarantee. In fact, Montgomery has shown a particular knack for getting dinged. If you assume you need 3 healthy backs, you really need 4, one of those stashed on the practice squad.

In fact, if I was a betting man i'd wager that one of the backs will be on IR before the end of training camp, leaving 3 + Rip.

RCPackerFan's picture

yeah, I'm not saying one will go on IR, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone misses a game or 2 during the season.
What I like now is they aren't relying on older injury prone RB's (starks), and UDFA's to take over like they have the last couple of years.

The mess that they were in last year at RB eventually allowed them to find a really good player in Montgomery. But still showed why they needed to improve the depth of the position. Adding 3 RB's in the draft is a very good start.

Nick Perry's picture

I don't think Thompson is done adding to the position either. I mean just look at WHO was on the Packers roster last season after Lacy and Starks were injured last season. They had no choice than to make Ty a RB. That and it was an effective way to get him more involved then AND this season.

Like Croat mentioned Jackson and Michael have already been cut. I don't think Thompson is done adding to the position group yet. I believe there will be quite a few veteran RB cut this year as TC get under way just because of the number of RB drafted this year. Wouldn't surprise me a bit to see the Packers add a veteran RB to the mix.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised at all if they added another RB later.
I don't think they will go and get Jamaal Charles or anything. But it could be a similar thing to when they added Ryan Grant at the end of preseason.

I think they will wait and see how they all look in training camp/preseason before they would bring in someone else.

PackEyedOptimist's picture

I think a large part of the "3 RBs chosen" was covering themselves for injuries. Two of the rookies have an injury history, and RB is one of the most-often-injured positions on teams. Last year's practice squad Rbs just weren't very good either.

fthisJack's picture

i think Cobb may be the odd man out next year with his big salary and having Monty as a potential replacement especially if Adams has another good year. drafting 3 RB gives them the flexibility to go both ways with Monty.

i also believe that these 3 RB may have been BPA where they were drafted. each of them had an injury that kept them from being drafted higher but their upside is very high.

D.D. Driver's picture

Possibly. But also, Jordy will be 32 next spring. This will be his tenth season. He has had one major knee injury. He looked good last season...but he is on the back end of his career. Donald Driver saw his productivity take a major decline in between his 11 and 12th seasons. So maybe Jordy keeps it going in 2018, but I wouldn't bet on him being a #1/#2 wide out beyond 2018.

Out of Jordy, Cobb, and Adams...Adams is probably the safest of the three...

EDIT: Also, everyone seems to have written off Trevor Davis already. Seems a bit early....

MarkinMadison's picture

Besides the injury bug, all three of these guys were picked at the bottom of the draft. There is a good chance that at least one of them simply won't pan out, even if healthy. I think three is just insurance to make sure that at least one (hopefully two) are worth putting on the field. I wouldn't be surprised if TT picks up a salary cap casualty RB in June.

Nick Perry's picture

LOL...I made a similar comment above about adding a veteran RB about the same time you were. I think you're right about the veteran being added.

Finwiz's picture

If they were going to add a vet RB, they would have done so already.
I don't see it, I think last year proved they can live with what they have, and they know it. They don't run the ball enough anyways to justify a veteran RB. They had Michael and the let him walk, plus they could have kept Eddie if they wanted a vet. They are standing pat, which is why you saw 3 RB's drafted. Plus they have the "fumbler" that can play in one back sets.

RCPackerFan's picture

To be fair I don't consider the 4-5th round the bottom of the draft. And if there is 1 position where you can find RB's in the 4-5th rounds and become really good players its RB.
These are some of the RB's in recent years that were taken in the 4th or 5th rounds.
2016 - (5th) Paul Perkins, Jordan Howard
2015 - (5th) Jay Ajayi
2014 - (4th) Devonta Freeman, James White

I'm not saying just cuz the Packers took them they will be all pro's or anything. But at the very least I think they can play a role on the team. And you maybe right, one of them may not pan out. Taking 3 helps if that is true.

dobber's picture

Agreed. For some "lesser demand" positions, those rounds are the prime spots to find guys who can be really good players...RB, G, C, even ILB. Everyone climbs all over themselves to get QBs and edge players and OTs early, but that just means that you're getting into the value at those other positions in those slightly later rounds.

At this stage, the Packers need RB that can threaten a defense. They don't have to be AP or Zeke, but they need to be guys who can force a defense to respect the run. At the same time, you'd like to see players who are versatile and can take advantage of what the Packers do best. I could see Monty evolving into a poor man's David Johnson. He might never be quite the quality of runner, but should be every bit the receiver.

RCPackerFan's picture

A lot of the RB's taken in the mid rounds may not be as special as RB's taken early but they often can contribute in some sort of way. Even if its just a role player.
Just look at what New England does with their RB's. James White should have been the Super Bowl MVP. He isn't as good as Zeke, but he is great in the role in which they use him.
Hopefully Jones can be that type of a RB for the Packers. He may never be a true 3 down RB, but could possibly be a really good change of pace/specialized type of RB.

Handsback's picture

I'm not comparing Ty to McCafferety who was just drafted to the Panthers, but the two bring the same kind of mismatch to a game. It was Ty's either first or second TD that he ran in that I knew he was a good RB. It was a very short plunge into a line that had been stymied by the defense. Instead of trying to fight through it, he patiently waited for an opening and squeezed through a very small crevice to score. The Packers could run Lacy the same way 10 times and he would never have gotten in.
The point is Ty does show excellent running skills and when they have that single high safety sitting up there and Rodgers raises his right foot, Ty goes out to that slot position...opps someone on the defense had better be very fast to make up some ground on that matchup. An OLB will not keep up with him.

I believe that TT was trying to re-make the RB position. They had TY/Rip and really pick-up guys. Now they have three new RBs that can play in the NFL. Will they all make the team? Don't Know. Will they all stay healthy? No they won't, but there's strength in numbers.

RCPackerFan's picture

I completely agree about Ty as a RB. He has some very good RB skills. The thing that impressed me the most with him was his patience as a RB and ability to get small and explode through tiny holes. It takes a lot of RB's a long time to learn how to be patient.

I agree about Thompson remaking the RB position. With Ty and Ripkowski as the holdovers that can be the RB, they now added 2 guys for sure that should make the 53 in Williams and Jones. He then added Mays who could be a late round find. Mays had a really good Junior year before an injury limited his senior year.

Right now I really like the RB group. With Ty and Jones being the Pass catching mismatch types of RB's, Williams being the traditional RB, Ripkowski being a power guy and Mays kind of a wildcard this group really has transformed.

Tundraboy's picture

I must say I can't say that I didn't see this coming but any talk of Ty going back to strictly WR is just so premature it's ridiculous.. Let's just see what we have in our draft picks and who's healthy and gets through training camp before we even begin to think about what we will be doing.

One thing is certain with the new tight ends, a full complement of running backs there can be a lot of flexibility for MM to be very creative.

Health, please health this year.

lou's picture

Agreed Tundraboy, it is way too early to seriously consider moving Monty back outside but it has generated a lot of conversation which is good. From a Square One aspect the thing that makes me nervous is he is the ONLY RB (excluding the 2 FB's) that knows the system inside out and has been able to pick up the blitz and handle audibles. The new RB's have to be fast learners like Monty (much praise as a rookie learning the complex offense) to feel comfortable going into the season opener. If the team is not real confident, look for multiple TE formations early and possibly 2 FB's at times. The develop part of draft & development will be the key element here.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I don't remember Ty being all that great at WR. He certainly did not get very many snaps during the first 4 games of 2016.

sonomaca's picture

There was Rip's fumble. That was painful. There is also the need to run some clock late, which keeps the defense from getting completely gassed.

Tundraboy's picture

Great points Lou. Going to be exciting.

Since '61's picture

With Lacy gone the Packers needed an RB(s) who can close out games in the 4th quarter. They don't want Monty to be that guy because that would significantly increase his exposure to injury. I think that we will see Monty become what we originally expected, a bigger and more physical version of Randall Cobb. Monty will continue to get 3-5 carries per game to keep the defense honest and also come out of the backfield or move to the slot on passing plays. The new RBs will take on the more traditional roles and also provide additional blocking for AR. Again why risk Monty to injury in a blocking role? If any of the RBs become the "featured" or primary RB it will likely be Williams with the other 2 rookies providing backup and part time roles. I was happy to see that Michael and Jackson were released. Nothing against them but neither was consistent enough to be effective. It also sends a message to the new players that nothing is guaranteed here. Thanks, Since '61

sonomaca's picture

Yup. This goes back to Atlanta game. Got to run clock to keep defense fresh. Also, can't have a fullback as your primary back in NFC championship game.

Had the Packers had quality depth at RB, they might be Superbowl champions.

Mixon was drafted #48. Packers were probably tempted to go up and get him. Probably needed to drop another 6 or 7 spots.

Ryan Graham's picture

There's definitely a number of correct answers to this situation.

Short term - he's the starting running back.

2-3 year answer - he's gonna be a hybrid guy that can do it all (possible, but highly challenging)

This draft to me spells a lot about not only the tailback position, but the wide receiver position. This tells me that Cobb and Adams are in a full blown competition for future work. There's zero chance that all of Jordy, Cobb, Adams, and Allison are all wearing Green and gold next year. Barring injury and/or the emergence of Williams, Mays, (more likely Williams IMO) or even Allison, Yancey or Dupre... Montgomery will remain the running back.
After this year, who knows. It may just change from year to year. Versatility and maintaining various options on the field be it offense or defense is not only good for field usage, now it's job security.

PETER MAIZ's picture

Monty needs to be a hybrid if only to extend the years he plays and not incur injuries. I'm hoping that the running back draftees will work out with one going into the PS. Running backs are the most beat up of all players and I would give Monty plenty of relief with the new rookies. I think at least one will adapt well to the NFL and that can make all the difference. Smart move on TT's choice and MM surely had input in stacking the running back position. Let's hope coaching can make these new backs into NFL running backs and I think this will happen.

CAG123's picture

The idea of replacing Adams is a bit silly to me he really stepped up last year when needed he was the go to receiver when Jordy was still getting back to form so why not reduce the contract of someone like Cobb who has been pretty inconsistent since 2014? Maybe even try to strike up a trade but I believe Adams fits more into what the packers are doing offensively I mean all the receivers he drafted this year are at least 6'2. If Adams continues his production I'm all for him getting a contract and Cobb either taking a pay cut or traded.

CAG123's picture

I don't believe Ty is going to be this workhorse back he's going to be more of a Darren Sproles type but bigger and considerably slower. He has the talent to be a 90-100 YFS type player and can probably get around 12-20 touches rushing and receiving a mismatch type player.

Matt Gonzales's picture

What you call them doesn't matter. Ty + the new versatile RBs just means more available personnel packages where you can run no huddle, no substitutions, and still give the defense lots of different looks. I expect all the RBs will catch lots of passes out of the backfield and Ty will probably line up in different places in the same series.

Matt Gonzales's picture

The thought of being able to go from heavy backfield/jumbo running package (3 TE and either 2 RB or RB + FB) to either 4 or 5 wide seamlessly is giving me shivers. TT stocked the roster this year to allow for lots of creativity in how MM schemes players,

Gmike's picture

Montgomery is probably my favorite packer, although inside my head I have many categories of favorites depending on position. Before his injury I had noted as a receiver he was the best they had at running a slant, a packer staple which had fallen by the wayside. Always strong enough to gain inside position, and wide enough to screen the defender, he made the 3 step release possible again. When he became a running back, he would lean on the backs of his offensive linemen until they provided an opening, make himself small slide through, accelerate and become big again to meet 2nd level defenders. LeVeon Bell is the only other back I know with that kind of vision and patience. When I listen to him speak, I realized both how intelligent and how humble the man is. I can see why they left him and 3 rookies as the only tailbacks in the running backs room. He is the one they want mentoring these guys. He's also a locker room influence without saying a word. When he pulls off the uni, that chiseled Monty muscular body sends a completely different message than Eddie Lacy hanging blubber, another of my favorites. His effort on runs was amazing, but do you think those ankles are going to hold up this season if nothings changed. Back to Ty. You can't have too many players like Ty on your team. Although a totally different personality, l'm somewhat convinced Mike Daniels on the d line made it easier to draft the lineman in the 3rd round with what was being written pre draft about his penchant for laziness. Anyway, I think Ty remains a running back, a matchup problem as a receiver, and hopefully healthy throughout the season.

packrulz's picture

They should call Ty "Toolbox", because he can do it all. I think they should use him on early downs with slants, screens, and sweeps to wear sown the defense, then let Williams do the short yardage snaps. When the field is snow covered, wet, and frozen, all 3 RB's drafted are capable of pushing the pile 3-4 yards to get that first down. I think Ty should return kicks too, our special teams needs to be more special.

Tundraboy's picture

Love it. Special team this year?

Gmike's picture

Remember last year Ty on a kickoff return jumped out of bounds at the 2 yard line then grabbed the ball before it could cross the goal line or be picked up by an opposing player? The announcers went nuts, not knowing as Ty did, that this counted as kicked out of bounds, giving the pack the ball at the 45. Great play!

MarkAlan's picture

Is Randle Cobb going to be on the roster the 2nd game of this season?

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