The Green Bay Packers tried to address their struggling return units in the third round of the NFL draft Friday night, selecting Stanford receiver/returner Ty Montgomery with the 94th overall pick.
Montgomery averaged nearly 20 yards per punt return and more than 25 yards per kickoff return during his senior season. The Packers were second-to-last in kickoff return average during the regular season last year.
"Well, he's a very strong runner, very instinctive, has good quickness, all the things you look for," Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson said of Montgomery's return ability. "And I think the key thing is his strength level is better than most."
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Asked what made him a strong returner, Montgomery said, "Vision, patience, speed, physicality, quickness and just a will to get to the end zone."
The 5-foot-11 7/8, 221-pounder played all over the field offensively for the Cardinal, seeing time at receiver, running back and wildcat quarterback, but is viewed by the Packers as a wide receiver.
"Yeah he's more like a (Randall) Cobb," Packers West Coast scout Sam Seale said. "He's a bigger Cobb, but he's a wide receiver. For four years at Stanford, he lined up all over the field. But from scouting him the last four years I think he's a wide receiver."
Montgomery caught 61 passes in each of his last two college seasons, but his per-catch average fell from 15.7 yards as a junior to 9.9 yards as a senior, and his touchdowns dropped from 10 to three.
"I don't think there's a clear answer to that," Montgomery said of his diminished statistics. "I don't think that there's anything that I did wrong. I caught a lot more balls behind the line of scrimmage and near the line of scrimmage and had to get yards after the catch, make more guys miss, not make as many plays down field. That's one thing I think about – not as many opportunities down the field."
He'll join a crowd at wide receiver, where Green Bay already has Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis and Myles White.
"Well, I think he's a very dynamic player," Thompson said. "Certainly, he's got strong hands. Good, quick hands. He's very versatile. He does have a lot of return cred from returns in his career. So a guy like that is a pretty good fit for what we're trying to do."
Ty Montgomery -- At A Glance
Position: Wide receiver/returner.
Height, weight: 5-11 7/8, 221.
Overview: An all-purpose player whose biggest impact, at least immediately, could be in the return game. As a senior, Montgomery returned 12 punts for a 19.8-yard average and two touchdowns, and 17 kickoffs for a 25.2-yard average. He also had a team-high 61 receptions for 604 yards and three touchdowns. The Dallas native ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. His college injuries include a partially torn PCL, a left knee injury, right shoulder surgery and a left shoulder sprain.
Strengths: Well-built with a very strong lower body and good overall musculature. Has big, strong hands. Powers through press coverage and is swift out of his breaks. Outstanding gear change – accelerates and separates out of double moves. Very versatile and lined up all over the field – at all three WR positions, as a kick returner, running back and wildcat QB. Good run strength and toughness. Has a 40 ½-inch vertical jump. Explosive returner – can power through arm tackles, open up his stride and finish. Very good all-purpose production. Hard-working, coachable and football is important to him.
Weaknesses: Very inconsistent hands. Does not have a good feel for zone coverage. Stiff, segmented route runner – too rigid and mechanical in his movement. Often has to be schemed open. Could stand to improve blocking effort – does not play to his size. Lets the ball get on top of him, as it did running through the gauntlet drill at the NFL combine, and lacks confidence in his hands. Has been very injury-prone, and durability is a concern.
Quote: "I think that the key thing is the strength level is better than most." – general manager Ted Thompson.
-- Strengths and weaknesses provided by Nolan Nawrocki's NFL Draft Preview.