Seattle -- A year ago it was quarterback Jake Locker whose impressive Pro Day workout at the University of Washington served as a springboard from which he boosted his mercurial stock all the way to the No. 8 pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
This year it is running back Chris Polk who likely boosted his stock with scouts with an impressive all-around performance Thursday in front of scouts and position coaches from roughly half of the teams in the NFL. Ironically enough, he did so with Locker watching, as the Titans' 2011 first round pick returned to Washington to throw passes to Polk, wide receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar and fullback Dorson Boyce.
Polk measured in at 5-10 (1/2) and 212 pounds, three pounds lighter than he'd weighed at the Combine and 12 pounds lighter than he was at the Senior Bowl. The loss of weight was noticeable in the running back's time in the 40-yard dash and his explosiveness in positional drills. Polk was credited with an "official" 4.57 second time at the Combine but came in at between 4.45-4.49 in his first attempt and 4.48-4.51 in his second. Polk also posted 16 reps on the bench press. He caught passes out of the backfield, demonstrating the soft, reliable hands and route-running ability that I believe is his most underrated quality and why the Washington running back remains in the hunt (along with Boise State's Doug Martin, Virginia Tech's David Wilson and Miami's Lamar Miller) to be the second back selected in the 2012 draft. Only Alabama's Trent Richardson, the consensus top-rated back, is viewed as a surefire first round pick.
While Polk was the big name, the three other Washington players invited to participate in the Scouting Combine this year each worked out again for scouts Thursday.
The Cincinnati Bengals thought enough of defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu to send their defensive line coach Jay Hayes to work out the big (6-2, 347) run-stuffer personally. Ta'amu has surprisingly light feet for a man of his size and scouts on hand seemed pleased with his performance in the shuttle and three-cone drills.
Similarly, Seattle Seahawks' assistant offensive line coach Pat Ruel worked out Senio Kelemete (6-3 1/2, 309). Kelemete started his final two seasons for the Huskies at left tackle but is viewed by most as a better fit inside at guard. Kelemete looked good at 309 pounds after playing closer to 290 this season, showing the balance, quick feet and improved power (25 reps today after 21 at the Combine) to handle the transition.
Kearse enjoyed a strong workout, as well, clocking in much faster today (4.44) than he did at the Combine (4.58) and catching every pass that I saw touch his hands. He and Locker didn't connect on a couple of deeper throws, including on a post-corner in which NFL personnel were overhead chiding Kearse for not getting his head around quickly enough to locate the ball.
One Husky who likely caught the attention of scouts with a stellar 40-yard dash time was cornerback Quinton Richardson. Not invited to the Combine, Richardson was the fastest of the players tested Thursday, recording times in the mid 4.3s. Richardson had looked like a potential draftable commodity after a strong junior season but struggled with inconsistency as a senior. Clearly, he has the speed to warant further investigation.
Media members were partioned off from the actual workout and the results of timed drills was not made readily available.
I saw representatives of the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the workout.