Montee Ball is one of the most productive running backs in Wisconsin Badgers history with the FBS career record for touchdowns of 83. Ball ran for 3,753 yards over the past two seasons and was a runner up for the Heisman Trophy as a junior. Entering his senior year, Ball was thought to be one of the favorites for the Heisman, but came out of the gates slowly after being the victim of an assault that resulted in a concussion. He rallied starting in October rushing for over 100 yards in 8 of his final 9 games to finish out the season. Ball is a north-south runner who will do the vast majority of his work between the tackles but with enough wiggle to keep defenses honest and will make some tacklers miss.
The attribute that jumps out immediately with Ball is his balance. His balance is not simply good, it is great and his good use of fundamental technique only serves to make it that much better. Ball has a great feel for following his blocks and being patient allowing holes to open up for him. He has good agility and displays impressive change of direction skills exemplified by his jump cuts, spin moves, and his ability to stop and start. Ball shows good acceleration and takes few steps to get to his full speed. He has good functional strength, can lower his shoulder and power through tackles, push the pile, and rarely gets knocked backwards as a runner. In addition, even when guys get penetration into the backfield, he has the ability to make them miss and is a consistent threat. He is a guy who can get yards each and every play and negative plays will be few and far between allowing teams to keep moving the chains and maintain drives. His vision and anticipation are above average and he has a good sense of how plays are unfolding in front of him and runs smoothly as a result. Ball is also a guy who has shown he will not give up on plays and will give a second and third effort on runs to find more yards, but does not go backward to accomplish this; rather he tries to keep running north and south with slight variation laterally.
Ball is incredibly reliable when it comes to protecting the football as a runner and when he does fumble, it is newsworthy. He has also shown that he can be a workhorse back and whichever team ends up taking him can keep feeding him the football. Ball also has demonstrated time and time again he can get the ball in the end zone. He has experience running out of single back formations as well as behind a fullback and has no problem functioning at a high level in either scheme. Ball has shown he can contribute as a receiver as well and demonstrates the ability to catch the ball naturally at times with his hands and on the move.
Ball is not a guy who will get tackled for negative yardage, but he is not a big home run threat either. His top end speed is average. He can get some big plays, but defenders will be able to track him down from behind. There will also be attention paid to the amount of carries Ball has had in his career; 924 in total. Ball is perfectly capable of being a good blocker given his size, strength and athletic ability, but his effort is sub par and the results are mediocre at best. Blocking simply did not appear to be important to him in college. He needs to make it more of a priority in the NFL. While Ball can show the ability to be effective receiver, he will have times where he lets the ball get into his body and it really slows down his transition from receiver to runner. Wisconsin did not give him a ton of opportunities to run routes as a receiver and this is an area he needs more reps as a whole.
There will a lot of teams that move Ball down their board due to the amount of carries he had in his career of Wisconsin, but there are a few teams that need a good, reliable running back now and are not worried about his longevity in the league that will be prepared to pounce on the Badger back. As a result, Ball could come off the board as early as the 3rd round but projects as more of a 4th round or even 5th round back in an incredibly deep and competitive class. Make no mistake; whoever takes Ball, they going to expect him to come in and compete for carries immediately and depending on the team, he could end up as a starter during his rookie year. Ball’s game could end up being similar to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. For the most part, he is not going to do anything that really has much of a wow factor, but is just a consistent, lunch pail type runner who compiles yardage and can get in the end zone.