A physical, patient runner that follows his blocks. Has good vision and able to bounce the play outside. Able to set up defenders on the edge, make the jump cut and make defenders miss on the second level. Runs hard between the tackles when he gets downhill. Is an effective short-yardage runner. Quick to the hole and able to side-step defenders there. Runs with nice balance and stays upright when defenders are around their legs. Has nice footwork and consistently falls forward and fights for extra yards. Keeps his feet moving after contact and finishes his runs consistently. Will lower the shoulder and seek out the defensive back on the second level to run him over. Has good pad level. Has a decent stiff arm. Comfortable lining up in the slot as a receiver and has good hands and ball skills as a receiver.
Lacks speed to make the big plays and just adequate with straight-line speed. Limited when he's on the stretch play and not great when he's running east and west. Struggles to beat the defense to the corner. Not explosive out of his cuts when asked to change direction. Limited in pass protection and can be tentative at times when stepping up. Whiffs on assignments there and has struggles squaring up pass rushers.
Polk is a physical runner that has most of the tools you look for in a running back, except speed and explosiveness. He's been a productive player for the past few years that sort of lived in the shadow of Jake Locker, but was a big piece of Washington's success and rebirth under Steve Sarkisian. He's a good receiver, but he's not very experience in pass protection and will need to improve there to stick at the next level. He's a player that flashes the potential to be a physical, workhorse back but needs more development. He's a player that has bulked up considerably since coming to Washington, as he was a 200-pound freshman.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(9/3) vs. E. Washington: 25 att., 125 yds, 5.0 avg, 34 YAC, 0 TDs; 0 tgt., 0 rec.
(10/15) vs. Colorado: 18 att., 116 yds, 6.4 avg, 36 YAC, 0 TDs; 1 tgt., 1 rec., 14 yds, 0 YAC, 1 TD
(12/29) vs. Baylor: 30 att., 144 yds, 4.8 avg, 41 YAC, 1 TD; 3 tgt., 2 rec., 8 yds, 13 YAC, 0 TD; Fumble: 1
2011: 13 GP/13 GS, 293 att., 1488 yds, 5.1 avg, 12 TDs; 31 rec., 332 yds, 4 TDs
2010: 13/13-260-1415-5.4-9; 22-180-0; 2 KO ret., 2.0 avg
2009: 12/12-226-1113-4.9-5; 25-171-0; 12-19.8
2008: 2/2-20-33-1.7-0; 1-0-0
- had knee surgery on torn meniscus prior to 2011
- missed most of the 2008 season with a dislocated shoulder injury
Polk reminds me a lot of Michael Turner in that I think he can be a physical between the tackles runner. But he probably needs to bulk up a big. He's the type of player that I would love to see bulk up to 230-235 pounds and be one of those guys that works in a physical ground attack. He could eventually work best in an offense that wants its lead back to be a workhorse. His biggest obstacle to transitioning to the next level is getting better in pass protection, an area where he lacks experience and it shows on the field. If he can improve there, then he has potential to be a lead back. He could also work well in an offense that is looking for a big physical between the tackles runner to tag-team with a quick, explosive outside back. He should be a good NFL running back if he can develop in pass protection because he's a guy that can contribute in the passing game and be a guy that you can be confident to give 20-25 carries per game. And with the added bulk, I'm not really concerned about his durability. But he's probably not going to be that player immediately. Like Turner, he might be a player that is a good backup and depth option early on, but then goes to another team and becomes the lead back after his first contract expires. But you feel confident that at the very least he's going to be a very capable backup if not a potential starter because he has all the tools to be a good NFL running back except speed and blocking skills.
Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons.
Polk would be a good pickup for the Falcons, especially if they dumped Turner this off-season. While he would not be able to immediately fill that niche, he definitely should be able to grow into that role by his second season. Like Turner, he's a guy that does a good job between the tackles, can get the tough yards that Jacquizz Rodgers probably won't. He can add value in the passing game as a receiver, but with Rodgers on the roster his need to be immediately productive in pass protection won't be a huge obstacle at first. He would be a good complement to Rodgers that if he can develop, could eventually take over the lead role down the road because he's more of the physical workhorse that Mike Smith tends to prefer.
Polk projects well as a potential developmental starter that makes him a solid third round pick. But because he is a guy that may take a year or two before he really hits his stride, he's probably not worth more than that.
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"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.