Tony Pollard, Memphis
What’s Good: Hands, Production, Balance, Position Flexibility
What Ain’t Good: Concentration, Short Area Quickness
Pollard is the first Memphis running back to appear on this list. Also, this isn’t the first time I’ve discussed Pollard, as I did in my first mock draft which you can find here. Pollard was the only running back who played well at the senior bowl and his film suggests he could translate well to the professional game.
Pollard is a jack of all trades running back. He can run from the backfield, he can be used on jet sweeps, he can be used as a receiver at the line of scrimmage, and he’s a return specialist. Because of his various usage, the total production doesn’t speak volumes like his teammate’s does, but he’s proven he can be a valuable asset in various ways.
When looking at Pollard’s production, you must look at his yards per carry, catch, and return for that is where is impact is seen. According to Sports Reference, in the last two seasons, Pollard hasn’t averaged below: 7.1 yards per carry, 11.7 yards per catch, and 24.7 yards per return. He’s returned 7 kickoffs for touchdowns in his career and averaged 9.2 scrimmage yards per play for his career.
While his production stands out, there are some smaller details that need to be addressed with his play. Memphis’s offense is rather elementary, something that was constantly brought up when Paxton Lynch was going through the draft process. This isn’t an issue for traditional running backs, but Pollard was asked to do something different. He was asked to line up at the line of scrimmage and run routes. This is where things get interesting in his evaluation.
The route tree Memphis receivers run are simple. The highlight reel has many screens, streaks, slants, wheels, and outs. On routes that require instant change of direction in order to get separation, Pollard struggled getting separation. For a team in need of exploiting a mismatch utilizing a running back, Pollard might not be the best option when asked to run shorter routes.
In addition, there are a fair amount of snaps, running and receiving, where it looks like Pollard just loses concentration. He’ll drop an easy completion, he won’t hit a gaping hole, or he’ll miss a key block down field. This should be a relatively easy fix for you can coach someone out of concentration lapses.
Could he be a Cowboy?:
Yes. I mocked Pollard to the Cowboys because he provided more value to the Cowboys than other running backs did in this class. His skill set provides the most variety and fills many holes on the roster at once at a fraction of the cost. The only question is, how much value will the Cowboys attach to a back like Pollard?