Approaching his first campaign as defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers, Jim Bates expressed excitement Sunday over the players the team will return along the defensive line, calling it better depth than he ever had while leading the Miami Dolphins' routinely suffocating attack.
The one player the Packers added to that pool of young talent in the 2005 NFL Draft was Texas A&M defensive end Mike Montgomery, with their first pick of the sixth round, the 180th selection overall. And despite his optimism about the players the Packers will return, Bates also thinks Montgomery has the chance to be an immediate contributor.
"We had him rated with a good grade," said Bates, who was especially impressed by Montgomery's standout senior season, in which he recorded 71 tackles including six sacks.
"I saw him personally against Texas and (Oklahoma). He held the point, rushed the passer and had a tremendous work ethic. He's going to mix into the defensive front and compete for a position. I feel like we got a really good football player late in the draft."
As with their previous defensive selections, the Packers noted Montgomery's versatility as one of his assets. At nearly 6-foot-5 and 276 pounds, Montgomery played both left and right end at Texas A&M, but spoke of a willingness to move inside to tackle as well, as need be.
"Whatever (the coaching staff) sees me playing," Montgomery said, "that's what I'm going to be."
Born with an irregular heartbeat, Montgomery is more than two years removed from a surgery that he said removed "extra" blood vessels in his heart to correct the problem.
Since that procedure, Montgomery said there have been no side effects and there's no risk of recurrence. Now he's just focused on giving his heart to his new team.
"I just feel fortunate to be drafted," Montgomery said. "I've always been a big Packers fan. I'm just happy to be a part of the team."