Tailback Chris Polk has decided to enter his name in the NFL Draft. He leaves the University of Washington as the second-leading rusher in school history with 4,049 yards on 799 carries.
The fourth-year junior rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his three active seasons; his 2011 total of 1,488 yards ranked second in school history, more than enough for him to earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors.
Out of high school, Polk was a blue chip prospect and considered one of the five-best running backs in the 2008 class.
Most draft boards list Polk as the fourth-best back who could enter the draft, behind the likes of Heisman finalist Trent Richardson and speedster Lamar Miller. Polk most probably will go in the second or third round.
At 5-foot-11, 222 pounds, Polk's a pure power back, small enough to run through the tackles and can force his way through elite defenses, lowering his shoulder and breaking free. He averaged five yards per carry this season and against Nebraska back in mid-September, he rushed for 130 yards on 22 carries.
Polk possesses excellent hands too. He protects the ball on contact, can work off receptions in the backfield and is a great route runner.
What set him apart from other power backs are his legs. He keeps his legs churning on contact, can burst through holes and has the ability to cut back in the open field. On long runs, once he hits the secondary, he can put it into second gear and get into the end zone (See 56-yard TD run in the second quarter against Baylor in the Alamo Bowl). He won't beat anyone with just his speed, but definitely can with the power of his legs.
The best part is that he returns kicks and knows a complex pro-style attack front-and-back. Versatility is a plus point. Likewise, a running back accustomed to style of play is a huge benefit.
The only concern is his durability. He's already undergone two shoulder surgeries, and experts are concerned that his body might break down with so many carries at the next level.
During the next few months, expect Polk to work on his speed and conditioning, but will also strengthen up. He's already gained over 20 pounds over four years of college and improving his durability will be at the top of his checklist. The NFL combine at the end of February will provide better analysis of Polk as well as all the other running backs entering the draft.