Star Huskies running back Chris Polk not taken in NFL draft
Polk signs as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles after going undrafted. Teams may have been scared off by his injury history.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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It wasn't so much the two Washington Huskies who were taken in the NFL draft Saturday that made news, but the one who wasn't.
In one of the most surprising developments of the draft, former UW running back Chris Polk went unselected. He'd been generally projected as possibly as high as a second-round pick and no lower than the fourth or fifth after rushing for 4,049 yards in his UW career, the second-most in school history.
Instead, he was left to sign as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles after going undrafted. Rumblings were that NFL teams were scared off by his injury history, specifically to his left shoulder.
He suffered a dislocated left shoulder two games into the 2008 season and then had season-ending surgery, and suffered a torn left labrum in 2009, having surgery after the season. He'd also had arthroscopic knee surgery shortly before the 2011 season, and there was one report of a hip issue.
"I will just have to go out there and show them I have a lot of great football left in me," Polk told NFLDraftScout.comafter agreeing to a deal with the Eagles. "I know teams are concerned about my shoulder, but I also heard somebody say something about a degenerative hip and there is just no truth to that. I had labrum surgery on the shoulder a year ago and it didn't slow me down last season."
The shoulder and knee issues were well-documented during Polk's UW time, and Husky coach Steve Sarkisian said he did not know of anything else that would have caused Polk to slide the way he did.
"Some of the reports that have come out are news to me," Sarkisian said after UW's Spring Game on Saturday. "I've never heard that stuff. We'll try to find out what's going on and help him in any way we can to get him on a squad."
Polk could have come back for another year at UW but decided quickly after the end of the year to declare for the draft.
His performance at the Senior Bowl had raised some questions among draft analysts, but a better showing at UW's Pro Day had seemed to answer them.
"Of course I would have preferred to be drafted and drafted high," Polk said in the NFLDraftScout report. "But the main thing now is that I am with a great offensive team and I will get my opportunity to show what I can do in the NFL."
Polk did not respond to phone messages Saturday, but QB Keith Price said he had talked to Polk on Friday night and that Polk was not discouraged about not being taken in the first three rounds.
"He's going to come out gunning," Price said.
Polk being passed over meant the only Huskies to get taken were defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu, a graduate of Rainier Beach High, by the Steelers in the fourth round; and tackle Senio Kelemete of Evergreen High by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth.
Kelemete started at left tackle for UW the last two years but is expected to start out at guard for the Cardinals. Ta'amu is expected to be a nose tackle in the 3-4 defense of the Steelers, who on Thursday had taken former Bellevue High star David DeCastro in the first round.
Players with state ties
Other players with state ties who were drafted Saturday were defensive back Matt Johnson of Eastern Washington and Tumwater High to the Cowboys in the fourth round; defensive lineman Trevor Guyton of Redmond High and Cal to the Vikings in the seventh; and tight end David Paulson of Auburn Riverside High and Oregon to the Steelers in the seventh.
UW receiver Jermaine Kearse joined Polk in the free-agent ranks and it was reported shortly after the draft that he had signed with the Seahawks.
There was also a report that receiver Devin Aguilar had signed a free-agent deal with the Tennessee Titans.
• Boise State senior quarterback Kellen Moore, the former Prosser star who set an NCAA record with 50 wins, was among the top prospects to go undrafted. He is to sign as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Lions as their third quarterback. The biggest knocks on Moore were his size (about 6 feet) and his arm strength.
• Oregon tight end David Paulson, who attended Auburn Riverside, was drafted by the Steelers in the seventh round. He is one of three players with Washington ties picked by the Steelers.
• Dallas chose safety Matt Johnson out of Eastern Washington in the fourth round with pick No. 135. Johnson attended Tumwater High School. He had 341 tackles at Eastern, fifth-most in school history.
• Linebacker Aaron Brown, who attended Puyallup High, was chosen in the seventh round by the Rams. He attended Hawaii, and was chosen with the second pick of the seventh round of the draft, No. 209 overall.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @bcondotta