SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 18: Running back Chris Polk #1 of the Washington Huskies rushes for a touchdown against defensive back Eric Hagg #28 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers on September 18 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Name: Chris Polk
Weight: 225 lbs
Scouted by: Joe Goodberry
Speed, Acceleration: Chris Polk has only average top-end speed. He looks faster in games than I expect he'll be timed at the combine. His inability to consistently break off long runs will keep Polk from being an elite RB, but his subtle burst and agility will enable him to be a difference-maker. Polk is a north-south runner and shows his explosion in between the tackles when he hits the hole full-force. Polk has the agility to stick a foot in the ground and gain acceleration into open space and use a defender's pursuit angle against him. Polk showed the ability to get to the edge on stretch zone runs and pitches to the outside.
Agility, Change-of-direction: This isn't Polk's greatest attribute. He can plant his foot and cut it up-field but he's not going to juke anybody in the open field. His lack of COD skills won't hurt him in the NFL, but they may limit what he can do to break off the long run.
Strength: Polk runs with good power and finishes most runs by falling forward. He looks very strong in his upper body and looks to drop his shoulder into a tackler instead of taking the shot himself. He's a tough runner who is very hard for defensive backs to tackle solo. Polk has the build of a work-horse RB. Polk is thickly built from head to toe.
Hands, Ball Security: Chris Polk is considered to have some of the best hands on the team. His receiving numbers could be better if he played in a different offense but he showed his natural abilities in the limited time as a receiver. I saw a few fumbles in the games I watched but most can be attributed to the defense or random plays that don't seem to be a trend.
Awareness, Vision: One of Polk's greatest strengths is his ability to see the cut-back lane and being able to make a defense pay for over-pursuing. You rarely see Polk get bottled up behind the line of scrimmage. He usually spots a crease or crack to gain something. In the 2nd level, Polk seems to understand his speed limitations and doesn't try to outrun defenders. Instead, he squeaks out as much yardage as possible.
Yards after Contact: Polk doesn't consistently break tackles or make defenders miss. He runs a little too upright at times and doesn't always keep his legs pumping. Where Polk gets his hidden yardage is when he falls forward or finds a way to drag defenders for an extra yard or two. He has a strong base and it can take more than one tackler to stop his progression.
Pass Protection: This is always a role that rookie RBs can work on. Polk is no exception, but he does have plenty of experience and can hold his own at the collegiate level. Polk uses a surprising punch to shock rushers and has shown an effective cut-block. At times, Polk's lack of intensity as a pass protector caused him to have lapses and be caught off guard. I few times when his QB was looking to buy time, it looked as if Polk let up too early.
Final Analysis: Polk is one of the few running backs that can carry the load and be a three down player. It's a breed of RB that is becoming rare in the NFL. I like Polk's complete package of skills and think he'll be a 1,200 yard rusher and 400 yard receiving RB in this tight offense. His speed will probably keep him from being drafted in the top 25, but Polk won't last until the 3rd round. He's ready to play next year and if any team is looking for a #1 RB that can come in and be your guy from day one, Washington's Chris Polk is the player you're looking for.
Projection: Picks 25-50
Games watched: California (2010), Nebraska (2010), Stanford (2011),
Nebraska (2011), Baylor (2011)