Polk has typical size for a running back at 5-10, 215 pounds with decent speed, having run a 4.57 40-yard dash at the Combine. Polk is not a burner but is a patient, north-south runner who follows his blocks and waits for a hole to open up. He has decent speed to the hole but can sometimes be a plodder in the backfield waiting for a hole to open up. He won’t create his own holes or bounce to the outside and lacks the top-end speed and agility to change direction if a hole doesn’t open up. Once he gets through the line he won’t have the speed to break huge runs but can be effective in short-yardage situations and has decent balance to maintain his run after the first hit.
Polk’s strength comes in the passing game. He is very effective catching passes out of the backfield, having caught 31 passes for 332 yards last season. He runs excellent routes when asked to participate as a receiver in passing game and can make the catch in traffic. He is also excellent in pass protection and excels at picking up blitzers.
Polk might be the best running back in the draft when it comes to holding onto the football. For his collegiate career he only fumbled five times in 892 carries. He needs to learn to run lower to the ground and get his shoulders down when contact is imminent. He takes a beating because he runs too high at times but is durable and has shown the ability to take the punishment. However, he did suffer a dislocated shoulder his freshman year which eventually needed two surgeries to help correct.
Polk showed consistent production in college, gaining 1,488 yards on 293 carries last season, 1,415 yards on 260 carries in 2010, and 1,113 yards on 226 carries in 2009. Polk can become an every-down back in the NFL but he could be a stand-out on third downs.
Running backs seem to be taking a backseat in the NFL these days as their importance in NFL offenses dwindles and the passing game takes precedent. Polk should be available in the middle rounds of the draft and could easily come in and challenge Joe McKnight for carries behind Shonn Greene. Polk should also help replace LaDainian Tomlinson, especially as a third-down back. Having a player with hands like Polk’s out of the backfield would be an excellent security blanket for quarterback Mark Sanchez, or Tim Tebow. If the Jets are serious about returning to the running game under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, then Polk could be exactly the kind of back the Jets are looking for.