Secret Superstar: Will Montgomery
In the final installment of the Secret Superstar series, PFF's Gordon McGuinness highlights Will Montgomery and his role in making the Redskins dynamic rookies look good.
Secret Superstar: Will Montgomery
All good things must come to an end. Sadly, that even includes this year’s look at the Secret Superstars from each NFL roster. Starting with Bobby Massie of the Arizona Cardinals, we’ve worked our way through the entire league, highlighting one player who we think has outshone his reputation.
For some it’s been about getting it done on a limited snap count. For others it’s been about playing a position that doesn’t get the credit it deserves, and then there are those players who live in the shadow of a teammate already entrenched as the starter. The one thing they all have in common is that they did something that caught our eye this past year.
So, with the series drawing to a close, it’s time to cast our eyes to the Washington Redskins where, despite what you may have heard, more players played well in 2012 than just rookie sensations Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris.
As a matter of fact, our final Secret Superstar was the man snapping the ball to RGIII and one of the men doing the dirty work for Morris, center Will Montgomery.
Struggling for Opportunities
Though he entered the league in 2006, as a seventh round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers out of Virginia Tech, Montgomery struggled to make an impact in the early stages of his career. On the field for six games in his rookie season, he was waived by the Panthers before the 2007 season began.
Picked up by the New York Jets two weeks later, he again failed to see much action before eventually leaving the Jets in October 2008. Out of football until late December of that year, it was the Redskins who picked him up, though he didn’t see the field throughout the remainder of the 2008 season.
Finally he saw the field for the Redskins in 2009, seeing time at right guard and playing a total of 288 snaps. Though he didn’t set the world on fire with his play, grading out at -2.7 in that time, there were signs that he could be a solid player, with decent starting performances against the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons.
That was enough to convince the Redskins to re-sign him, but not enough to guarantee him a starting job. Yet when he took over as the starter at right guard for the final five games of the 2010 season he didn’t look out of place.
His performance was sufficient enough to see him open the 2011 season as the starting center in Washington and begin to stand out. His overall grade for that season (-4.6) might not look particularly impressive but when you consider that his two worst performances came in his three starts at left guard, and that he finished the year with a grade of +4.4 in his time at center, the Redskins faith in him heading into this past season makes sense.
Taking the Next Step
Though he had shown signs that he could be a decent player on that Redskins offensive line, his level of play in 2012 was a bit of a surprise. Missing just six of the team’s offensive snaps throughout the entire year, he played well enough to finish as our fifth highest graded center, ahead of impressive players like Nick Mangold and Chris Myers.
Solid as a pass blocker, where his Pass Blocking Efficiency rating of 98.2 was 11th among all players at the position, it was as a run blocker where he really stood out. His run blocking grade of +16.0 was the fourth best mark of all centers in 2012, and tied for 16th best since we began grading in 2008.
His consistency was key too, with just 51 negatively graded plays and three penalties in 1,112 snaps showing that, while he may not have been mauling opposing defensive linemen downfield, he did a solid job as a blocker to open holes for the Redskins running game.
Entrenched as the Starter
After years of battling since his career began in 2006, Montgomery is finally in position to call the starting center job in Washington his own. So where does he go from here? Well, simply put, he needs to continue to perform at a high level. His 2012 season was fantastic but it’s his job to prove that it wasn’t a flash in the pan and that he’s going to continue as a top-five player at his position for the next few years.
Having just turned 30 it may seem like he’s on the down slope of his career but you’d have to expect him to have a few good seasons left in him yet. If he continues to avoid mistakes and do his job as a run blocker, it won’t be long before he’s getting the credit he deserves.
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Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.