Tony Pollard, RB/WR
School: Memphis | Conference: AAC
College Experience: RS Junior | Age: 21?
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 200 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 3rd or 4th Round
NFL Comparison: Julian Edelman / Devonte Booker
Tony Pollard was originally a cornerback when he recruited by Memphis back in 2015. The former 2-star recruit from Memphis, Tennessee was switched to wide receiver after his redshirt freshman year when new head coach Mike Norvell took over the program. Norvell used Pollard all over the field as a running back and as a wide receiver which put him in position to be a big time play maker on the ground and through the air. Pollard also has a ton of value on special teams as well. He tied the NCAA record for career kickoff return touchdowns this year when he scored his 7th. Versatility will be Pollard’s calling card at the NFL level but big questions remain about what will ultimately be his position. The answer is likely not unanimous and will depend on the needs and vision of the team that selects him. Speaking of vision, Pollard’s is excellent which is a large part of why he is so dangerous with the ball in his hands. The team that drafts him should be confident they are getting a dynamic player with big play ability who can be used in multiple places on offense and special teams.
- Good speed, athleticism, and has some quickness. He has the ability to make something out of nothing and take the ball to the house with his elusiveness. Has good straight line speed and a bit of acceleration to help him pull away from some defenders.
- Great vision. As a running back he can see and has the discipline to wait for his blocks to form before he bursts forward through his lane. Also knows how to use the blocks set up for him in space as a receiver and returner.
- Good balance. Can work between the tackles pretty well for a guy his size and doesn’t go down super easy.
- Above average hands, looks like a natural catching the ball out of the backfield. As a receiver he was used mainly in the slot and is a mismatch for a good number of defenders.
- Willing blocker + lots of special teams value.
- May be a position-less type player who flat out may not fit in some offenses. Isn’t overtly a RB or a WR and lacks certain bonafide skills to be firmly either.
- Route running needs a lot of work there isn’t much attention to detail going on right now. Can see him struggle if he’s made a slot receiver outright. Mainly ran flats behind the LOS, can struggle with contested catches and concentration.
- Mainly ran out of the shotgun formation in college. Doesn’t have much experience lining up in a pro formation or running off zone stretches or tosses.
- Size is about average for both positions he’ll have to win with his quickness rather than size or strength.
Let’s see his work:
RB Tony Pollard from Memphis the first player to reach 20 mph today with a run during the 9 on 7 period. #SeniorBowl on NFL Network. @ZebraTechnology— Reese's Senior Bowl (@seniorbowl) January 24, 2019
#Memphis RB Tony Pollard— The Draft Network (@DraftNetworkLLC) January 22, 2019
Hands: 9 1/2”#SeniorBowl
Memphis' Tony Pollard is now tied for the all-time NCAA lead in kick return TDs— MyBookie Sportsbook (@betmybookie) December 22, 2018
Tony Pollard TD catch. #DevyWatch pic.twitter.com/LA59HeFZMa— Greg Brandt (@devywarehouse) October 20, 2018
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
Unfortunately, as long as Jay Gruden is calling the plays I think the Redskins offense is much too stale and rigid to properly incorporate and use a player with Pollards versatility and abilities to its potential. Gruden’s offense hasn’t been known to incorporate these gimmick plays or players well. Think of all WR screens you’ve seen in his tenure here, how many were successful? Ask the same question of two running back sets out of the shotgun. WR jet sweeps? Yeah. It’s a shame because I think Pollard can be a dynamic playmaking weapon if he’s used the right way in the NFL. Under the current regime the Redskins could always opt to use him as a returner which is still a sore spot on special teams and have him be a reserve WR or RB but that sort of seems like a waste especially with how good Pollard’s vision is. I can foolishly hold out hope that Jay Gruden will relinquish play calling duties so that the offense can open up creatively especially in lieu of a legitimate QB option on the roster. The team in a lot of respects should be looking for players like Pollard that can produce big plays with little to work with.