Chris Polk is a Junior tailback for the University of Washington Huskies. He is originally from Redland, California; he came to UW in the winter of 2008. In 2009 Polk broke a Huskie freshman record by rushing for 1,113 yards in his first full season. He followed that season by recording 103 yards per game in his combined 13 starts in 2010. Polk has been named to both the Walter Camp and Doak Walker preseason watch-lists for the 2011 season.
Size: 5’11 // 222 lbs – Chris Polk has ideal NFL size for the RB position with a thick lower body and compact build. He will be able to sustain the physical rigors of playing running back at the next level with his strong frame and powerful thighs.
Speed: Easily the weakest of Polk’s attributes. Rarely will you see him take off in the open field and separate from defenders. Often caught from behind once reaching the 3rd level and beyond; he appears to lack that 3rd gear to truly pull away. He has recently been timed at both 4.44 and 4.49 in the 40 yard dash, but I would project his official time to be closer to 4.53 come April.
Quickness: Though he does not have ideal speed, Polk does display a quality short-area burst. A fast first step allows him to hit holes as soon as they appear and he does get to the second-level with relative ease.
Between the Tackles: A strong, physical runner between the tackles. Polk’s powerful lower body allows him to churn through a pile and find the crease. Definitely NFL-ready in this department as he has the look of your ideal power back. Hits the hole with conviction and is rarely brought down in the backfield.
Outside the Tackles: Polk does not get many designed plays that allow him to display his ability on the outside. And for good reason. Generally does not have the speed to stretch the field or intimidate a defense. Rarely dances behind the line of scrimmage and will push the ball upfield as soon as he sees a hole.
Receiving: Definitely will not be a high-volume target at the next level. Displays soft hands and the ability to turn it up field with success after the catch. Certainly a willing receiver that is much more of an outlet rather than weapon. Poor route runner that will never find separation if a defender is spying him.
Blocking: Willing blocker that will provide the strength to keep his QB secure. Inconsistent acknowledgement of where a rusher will enter the pocket which often leaves him off-balance in attempt to make a block. That type of play will not work against more mature NFL schemes.
Vision: Fantastic overall vision. Polk is rarely caught dancing in the backfield and is consistently taking one step to hit the hole. Often times will abandon his designed gap when he notices a crease in the defense. A very instinctual runner.
Carrying: The surprising thing when reviewing Polk’s tape is his elite balance. It will appear that he is going down on several occasions before he pushes himself up with his hand or pulls off a spin move for extra yards. Almost always makes the defender miss and is very difficult to bring down in the open field 1-on-1. Too often for my liking Polk will get lazy and display very poor pad level. Runs too high at times, which leaves his midsection exposed for easy tackles to inferior defenders. One of the few backs in the country that gets stronger in the 4th quarter. Certainly a high-volume tailback.
Handling/Fumbling: Very strong, reliable hands. Polk is often given the mop up duties late in the game to secure the win. Holds the ball tight against his body, even in the open field.
Durability/Injuries: Polk is a strong back that will play through nagging injuries. In 2008 he received a redshirt after an injury to his foot following the second game. Was treated with arthroscopic knee surgery to repair his injured meniscus in August. Returned with no issues to start in the Huskies season-opener.
Character: Very little questions of Polk’s character have surfaced during his time at Washington.
Summary: Chris Polk is your traditional power back that will want to take the ball as often as he can and pound the defense for all four quarters. His up-and-down pad level is a major concern as he enters the draft process. He will never be a receiving back in the NFL, but does have the ability to be a reliable outlet. His speed will continue to hurt his stock as we get closer to the draft.