We’re just one week away from the start of the highly anticipated NFL Draft that will determine the landing spots for nearly 300 college prospects.
The Memphis Tigers football program have a group of players with potential to continue their NFL careers and a couple of players who are almost guaranteed to hear their name called next weekend.
To prepare for the draft, Helmsman reporters Ryan Brown, Matt Burnham and Reggie Reed have come together to pair some of Memphis’ draft hopefuls with their best team fits and what round we think they’ll be selected in.
When it comes to do-it-all players, no one exemplifies the term more than Tony Pollard. During his time as a Tiger, he played wide receiver, running back and was a special teams ace.
In his last three seasons, he’s accumulated 2,233 yards and 18 touchdowns, which was one of the leading figures of the team. Not only that, but he tied the NCAA record for kick return touchdowns with seven.
As he prepares to make his transition into the league, teams and analysts have labeled him a running back, and he’s participated in off-season drills as such. He had an impressive Pro Day performance and since then, his stock has risen.
Ryan Brown: Pollard is one of the most versatile players in the draft having experience at running back, wide receiver and the primary returner for Memphis. Nobody loves versatility like the New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, who has a history of success with versatile players. An example being Troy Brown, who the Patriots used at receiver, return specialists and cornerback during the first three Super Bowl victories.
If Pollard is there in the sixth round, look for the Patriots to pull the trigger. Pollard would essentially fill the hole left by the departure of wide receiver and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson to the Bears and be best suited in New England, who have utilized backs like Shane Vereen, Dion Lewais and James White. Pollard’s record tying seven return touchdowns will only serve him better, as Belichick has an admiration for great special teams players.
Ryan’s prediction: New England Patriots select Pollard in the sixth round with the 205th overall pick.
Matt Burnham: Tony Pollard is simply a playmaker. When he gets the ball, he can make some electric things happen. He can be a key utility player for an NFL club seeking a dynamic offensive option, not to mention he can return kicks in an era where that role has become underrated.
There are plenty of good fits for that type of player in this league, but where he might fit best is with the Arizona Cardinals. Expected to select quarterback Kyler Murray with the first pick, coach Kliff Kingsbury will look to surround Murray with playmakers, as the team has been rather stale on offense throughout the last several years. They are incredibly thin on the offensive depth chart. I can see them taking Pollard later on in the draft.
Matt’s prediction: Arizona Cardinals select Pollard in the sixth round with the 179th pick.
Reggie Reed: Pollard has been one of the top return specialists in the past three years while he was at Memphis. He is a Day three prospect, projecting to be a sixth or seventh round pick. He is a gadget-type of player because of his tremendous versatility. He showed up at the Senior Bowl and ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
Pollard has work to do as a runner/receiver in the NFL. Tennessee is in dire need of a gadget/special-teams player on their roster to help make extra plays when needed. Adoree’ Jackson was the returner for the Titans last season, but he fumbled the ball twice in kick returns and once on punt returns.
Reggie’s prediction: Tennessee Titans select Pollard in the sixth round with the 188th pick.