The list of official visitors to the VMAC grows today as Rand Getlin reported that the Seahawks will host Stanford receiver/returner Ty Montgomery to their headquarters in Renton.
As a quick reminder, based on the observable M.O. of the Seahawks over the past four Drafts, Seattle likes to host a few early round type players, a smattering of mid-rounder types, then a host of late-round to undrafted free agent types to the VMAC prior to the draft. Each team is alloted 30 official visits, and Seattle's goal in hosting later-round and UDFA types is a recruitment style pitch. There's a free for all after the draft ends in getting players to come to your organization, and Seattle does its best to make themselves an exciting and attractive location for players that have the choice of where to sign (hence, their brochure last year) .
Anyway, Montgomery probably does not fit into that late round/UDFA category, he's more of a mid-rounder, but he joins Arizona State S Damarious Randall, South Carolina RB Mike Davis, Texas Southern CB Tray Walker, West Georgia DL Tory Slater, Cal WR Chris Harper, and Bufffalo DT Kristjan Sokoli as reported pre-Draft visits for Seattle.
Montgomery is a very interesting mid-round prospect because he's arguably the best kick returner and punt returner in the nation (statistically, he was in 2014). At 6'0, 210 to 220 pounds, he's been compared to Cordarrelle Patterson in that he's very raw as a receiver and you'd probably have to scheme him into your offense to get much production, but he has the potential to be a game-changing, possibly All Pro/Pro Bowl talent as a returner early in his career, just as we saw with Patterson in Minnesota.
In case you didn't notice, the Seahawks had an enormous hole at the returner positions last year, tinkering with several guys at each spot, none of whom really wowed in any way or fashion. Eventually, Bryan Walters won the punt return job on the pure ability to simply catch the ball alone, and I really wouldn't say that anyone "won" the kick return job all season. In fact, Seattle's average of 21 yards per kickoff was 30th in the NFL, which is really bad. Pete Carroll has proven that he highly values special teams -- this is evidenced by his and John Scheider's choice to bring in Leon Washington as a pure return specialist -- and I still believe a big part of the Percy Harvin acquisition factored in his explosiveness on kick returns. So I'm guessing that Seattle's highly ineffective return game last year is an area in which Carroll will look to improve.
Montgomery is a very good athlete. He had a disappointing Combine after he ran a 4.55 at 220 pounds, but he still came in at 123 for his pSPARQ score, which was 13th among Combine receivers. Those numbers put him as a 0.7 sigma athlete, and among the 70th percentile for NFL players at that position. He then dropped weight after the combine, got down to about 210, and ran between 4.38 and 4.5 in the 40 at his pro day. With the improved numbers there, Zach says, he'll end up a full 1.0 sigma player when it's said and done, per SPARQ (meaning, his numbers are a full standard deviation above the average NFL player -- this is really good).
"It wasn't that I looked bad at the combine," Montgomery said at his Pro Day. "It was just, ‘How much better could you look if you dropped the weight?' It was something I discussed within my inner circle, and we decided to drop the weight, work on flexibility, and it paid off."
Ultimately, as a returner, 210 sounds about right.
"He's an interesting guy because when you watch on tape this fall, you see him drop a lot of passes and that's a little bit concerning," former NFL Scout and NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said recently. "I think he's day one a starting kick returner. He could be a Pro Bowl kickoff returner in his NFL career. He's a little bit of a project at the wide receiver spot."
NFL analyst Lance Zierlein agrees. "Scouts believe he can be a Pro Bowl returner," he writes in his scouting report on Montgomery. He's "scored four times over last two seasons as a returner."
"Montgomery can flip fields and change games with his ability in the return game and might be best-utilized in a dynamic, open-minded offensive system that gets the ball in his hands quickly and allows him to use his run after catch talents," writes Zielein.
Ultimately, Montgomery's stock lies somewhere in the early fourth to the early fifth round, most likely. That's the standard "role player" area and even for Seattle, who has hit on some great players in the mid-rounds, you have to set realistic expectations. CBS's Dane Brugler compared Montgomery to a "better" version of Josh Cribbs. You could compare him to Jacoby Jones or Ted Ginn too, but regardless, you draft him to be a returner and hope to get some bonus value out of him as a receiver. The fourth round would be a good value spot for a player with potential as a Pro Bowl returner, and Seattle could hope that after two or three years, he'd prove to be a solid receiver as well.