2015 NFL Combine Watch List; Part 1: Wide Receiver

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Jan 21, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad wide receiver Ty Montgomery of Stanford (7) carries the ball up the field during North squad Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Ty Montgomery, Stanford

Ty Montgomery could be the best overall athlete among the wide receiver group. Despite a short frame (he was 5’11” at the Senior Bowl) he is sturdy and shows blazing game speed on film: he will likely finish near the top of the wide receivers group in his 40-yard dash time. He is also long for his height and can play tall, with good reach and a good vertical leap. He is great with the ball in his hands, evidenced by his outstanding body of work as a return man and a mountain of after-the-catch highlight footage.

With his athletic ability clearly identifiable on tape and from the reports of various scouts who have seen him in person, Montgomery won’t attract much attention for his likely strong performances in the 40 yard dash, 3-cone and various shuttle drills. Scouts will take a peek at his arm length, his actual height/weight measurement, and his vertical, but only to confirm what they already know about him. What they’ll want to see is if he can come in and play football.

Montgomery underwhelmed at the Senior Bowl, where he showed unreliable hands and poor route-running on nearly any mid range or deep route. In order to bring his value back up, he’ll have to show up at the Combine in the following drills:

1. The Gauntlet: the Gauntlet is not a route running drill, but it is a drill that demonstrates his ability to repeatedly make quick receptions while running along a straight line. Montgomery can up his draft stock if he can actually catch all the passes thrown to him in the gauntlet and do so using proper technique and good head movement. He can even further impress if he can do it all without weaving too heavily along the line, showing that he has the body control and discipline to keep moving along a route while locating and catching a pass. As sturdy, fast type, he will likely be used frequently on underneath patterns at the next level, and the Gauntlet will show if he can be used on drag and quick in patterns, as well as on quick out routes near the boundary on the final catch of the drill.

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  • 2. Pass Routes: Montgomery will have a chance to redeem himself as a route-runner if he can perform well in the pass route drill, a drill that is exactly what it sounds like: he has to run a series of routes. The route tree drill includes quick outs, corner routes, fly and fade patterns, quick hitches and comeback patterns, and other common wide receiver routes. Montgomery should focus the majority of his prep work prior to the Combine on this drill, as this is possibly the most important drill he can show up for. If he can execute crisp routes, crisp breaks, use his head properly to locate the ball on the deeper routes, and catch the ball correctly, he can up his draft stock dramatically. If he struggles in this drill, he could knock himself down by a full round or more.

    3. Over-the-shoulder Catch Drill: This is another drill that is exactly what it sounds like it is: Montgomery must practice catching a deep pass over his shoulder, a crucial skill for an NFL receiver if he ever intends on catching a deep ball. Since he spent most of his college career used in the short passing game as a catch and run threat, Montgomery hasn’t seemed to develop this skill, and struggled with it at Senior Bowl practices. If he can show that he has developed the ability to catch over his shoulder in a workout at the Combine, he may convince teams that he can show the same ability with pads on against an actual defender, at least with enough competence to make the defense cover him if he runs a deep pattern. A player with his speed and athletic ability should be able to be a deep threat, and in order to be that, he’ll need to work on this skill and excel in this drill.

    Next: WR to Watch: Josh Harper