Last season, I became a big fan of Chris Polk of the Washington Huskies. His senior season, Polk had ten 100+ yard games, finishing with almost 1,500 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. He is not too shabby in passing situations either, with 332 yards and 4 touchdowns receiving. Polk had four touchdowns of over 50 yards, showing his big play ability. The 5'11" 222lb back was the perfect target for the Falcons in the 2nd round. I then heaped general praise upon him.
Polk promptly showed up to the Senior Bowl with a few extra pounds, played poorly, and bombed interviews. Well, maybe Atlanta could have snagged him in the 5th. Acknowledging questions about his speed after the Senior Bowl, he expects to run in the 4.4's in the 40 yard dash at the combine.
Polk did not disappoint. He showed up at a svelte 215lbs and ran a fantastic 4.46 and 4.57 at the combine (4.57 official). That puts him 14th in the running backs, which is not bad for a guy his size with questions about his speed. Polk was top 15 in both the 20 yard shuttle and the three cone drill, arguably some of the more important stats for real world play.
Rob Rang of CBS Sports said Polk had the best tape of any running back not named Trent Richardson. Impressive is limited talent at offensive line that Polk managed to run through, for 2nd overall yards in Huskies history.
After Michael Turner, currently full of baby mama drama, broke down again half way through the season, it became time to at least consider a new running back. Smitty seems intent to bring back Turner, albeit at a reduced role. Even that could change with a running back taken highly in the draft.
Jason Snelling is also a free agent after a year showing frustrating mediocrity, his second year of decreasing yards per carry. Having just turned 28, Snelling could easily be on the way out as nothing but a completely average player with no more upside.
Atlanta could certainly use a running back, and Polk is a great back to complement Jacquizz Rodgers. Polk can bring his aggressive North-South running style, and would still be a threat to bump it outside (such as against LSU in the video above). He is very well rounded, being competent in pass protection and catching the ball, making him a legitimate three down running back.
Polk greatly improved his draft status this weekend, dropping weight and having great times in the 40 yard dash, 20 yard shuttle and three cone drill. He had the chance to fall deep in the draft, but quickly got back into football shape and reminded everyone of the player that blew up the Pac-10 this season.
Get more great Atlanta Falcons news and analysis over at The Grits Blitz.