Raymond Polk never got his chance to shine at the NFL level. He was a cornerback at Oklahoma State before being drafted the 12th round by the then-Los Angeles Raiders in 1985 was first traded to Tampa Bay, and then suffered a preseason injury that ended his career before it began. His son, Ray, has a great chance to help his father realize that dream.
Polks speed originally got him recruited as a running back, and he showed promise during his redshirt season at that position before decided to go under the knife to fix a shoulder injury. He was buried on the depth chart, though, so he asked to move to the secondary to see the field more regularly. Polk played in 11 games, with three starts despite his inexperience at safety; 11 of his 37 tackles came in one of his starts against Kansas State. He won the full-time starter job at free safety in 2010, finishing second on the team with 60 tackles. And though Polk missed two games (Oregon, USC) with concussion symptoms, he played through a cracked sternum and torn ligaments in his wrist most of his junior year to lead the team with 69 stops. In 2012, Polk played in seven games (all starts), missing five games with a severe high ankle sprain he suffered in the first half of the season opener against Colorado State.
At Colorado's pro day, Polk ran the 40 in 4.43 and 4.40 seconds. He had a 39-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-6 broad jump. He did the short shuttle in 4.33 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.10 seconds. He performed 19 lifts of 225 pounds on the bench.
Polks injuries were not necessarily evident in his 2011 play, his speed was. Capable of playing a single-high look because of that range, his foot quickness and short-area agility allows him to stay with slot receivers in man coverage about as well as most college cornerbacks. Not contact-shy, is willing to stick his shoulder into his former breatheren whether before they reach the sideline or pounding a receiver over the middle and out of bounds (occasionally a bit late). Quite adept at flowing through traffic to fill a gap, and shows the recognition skills to start single-high and work his way into position quickly to stuff a run for a short gain. Solid as a last line of defense, as well, regularly breaking down to wrap up ballcarriers.
Not the biggest or strongest safety. Hasnt made many plays in coverage so far in his career with the Buffaloes (one interception in 2011, three total pass break-ups in 2010-11), must show scouts he has the hands and tenacity to win battles for the ball downfield. Will go for the big hit instead of wrapping up at times. His medical exams at the Combine will also be very important to his draft stock due to his various injuries. His experience and coaching will aid Polk to take full advantage of the athleticism with which hell surely show in Indianapolis.
This former running back has opened the eyes of scouts with his play on defense the past two seasons, as his athleticism allows him to work in man coverage while he also has the physicality to make big hits in run support and as an intimidator over the middle. Making plays on the ball more regularly in 2012 (one interception, two pass break-ups in two years) could raise his stock significantly.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.