Where the Bears saw Howard as a one-note runner, who didn't stress defenses in the passing game or create many yards on his own, coach Matt Nagy multiple times described Montgomery as a "three-down" player who can do it all.
"It's about mismatches," Nagy said, via NBC Sports Chicago. "You're using running backs so every running back has his own strength as far as what route he can run. Whether it's a vertical route down the field, he's a bigger target or he's super fast. Some running backs you can put them in empty and they are better in shallow crosses or better with reading routes, and it's not a vertical route or a post route where they beat you with speed.
"When you have guys that can play all three downs, it's nice for the play caller and it's nice for the offense."
In three seasons with the Cyclones, Montgomery generated 2,925 rushing yards on 624 carries with 26 TDs, and added 71 catches for 582 yards. The past two seasons, the 21-year-old carried a massive workload with 258 and 257 carries, respectively. That workload could be considered a double-edged sword: It proves he can handle the hits, and it also puts miles on his treads entering the NFL.
Nagy gushed about Montgomery's ability to make defenders miss in close quarters, use power to bowl over defenders and anticipate hits to avoid crushing blows.
The coach didn't shy away from on-field comparisons between Montgomery and Kareem Hunt, whom Nagy coached for a season in Kansas City. Both Montgomery and Hunt were coached by Matt Campbell in college as well.
"Yeah there are some similarities for sure," he said. "You look at him and the size of them and you see how they run between the tackles. They're physical -- they run angry, both of them, and I think the other connection is just the background of the coaches they both had too."
Montgomery pairs well with Bears jitterbug Cohen and if the rookie beats out free-agent addition Mike Davis, he could secure the early-down role in Chicago. While his pass-catching ability isn't what he does best, Nagy's repeated insistence that the rookie can be a three-down player suggests there might be untapped potential.