Posted: 5:52 p.m. Monday, April 29, 2013
By Louis Bien
Sam Montgomery is a talented defensive end with a lot of question marks. He was regarded as a potential first round talent after the finishing his career at LSU, but ultimately fell to Houston Texans in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft due to character concerns, including an admission that he didn't always give a full effort. Montgomery also earned demerits for his lack of versatility. In a February scouting report, SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn called Montgmery a weakside 4-3 defensive end, or perhaps a 3-4 defensive end if he puts on more weight.
That is why it's surprising that Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips wants to give Montgomery a chance to play outside linebacker in his 3-4 defense, according to the Houston Chronicle. Phillips reportedly sees Montgomery as a potential challenger to Brooks Reed on the strong side of the defense, where he would be tasked with dropping into coverage and covering tight ends on occasion.
Montgomery put on weight heading into his senior season, and weighed in at 6'3, 262 pounds at the NFL Combine. While he added the weight to make himself stronger at the line of scrimmage, Fairburn points out that he also became more stifft. Coaches at LSU and at the Senior Bowl played Montgomery at defensive end exclusively, saying that he was "definitely not a fit" at linebacker due to an inability to play in space.
Phillips is a well-regarded defensive mind, and knows the needs of his defense better than anyone. That said, there are several indications that Montgomery is ill-suited to stand up on defense. The Chronicle suggests that Montgomery could be a better fit at weakside linebacker, where he would be tasked as a pure pass rusher/run stopper more often.
Montgomery certainly has the strength and mean streak to be a potential difference maker at the next level. Whether he makes his impact at linebacker or defensive end remains to be seen. Battle Red Blog compared Montgomery to a wrapped Christmas present, which may be the most perfect analogy possible.