Eagles Position Battles: Bryce Brown vs. Chris Polk


Chris Polk at Washington. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Bryce Brown and Chris Polk both went into their respective colleges as highly touted recruits. Polk, a 4 star recruit and the 4th best Running Back in the nation (according to Rivals.com), committed to Washington University after decomitting from USC. 

Brown's recruitment came with even more hype. The Kansas native was the number one recruit in the entire 2009 class, and big name colleges like Oregon, Clemson, LSU, and Miami (FL) were drooling at the chances of having Brown play for them. Yet his heart was in Knoxville, and went to play for Lane Kiffin's Tennessee squad. 

Two guys going down very similar paths, yet one veered severly of course. After rushing for 460 yards on 101 carries in his Freshman year, Brown decided to transfer to Kansas St. Because of NCAA rules, he was forced to sit out the entire 2010 season before being able to join the Wildcats in 2011. But for unknown reasons, Brown could not hack it at KSU, playing in the season opener before leaving the team for the rest of the team. A player who once commanded all the media attention and even a feature ength ESPN article had disappeared from the football scene. 

Meanwhile, Chris Polk was running circles around Pac-10 Defenses. After sitting out his Freshman year with an injury, Polk took the starting job in 2009 and rushed for 1,113 yards on 226 attempts. He stepped up his production in his Junior season scoring 9 Touchdowns and rushing for 1,415 yards on 260 attempts. Polk had over 1,400 yards his Senior year, but a knee injury and a shoulder problem concerned NFL scouts. 

When the April draft rolled around, both men found themselves in situations they did not expect. With Polk still on the board, the Eagles decided to draft Brown with the 229th overall pick, shocking many that Brown was still even committed to football. Polk went undrafted, but signed with the Eagles just hours after the draft's conclusion.

So both men who took completely different routes to the NFL find themselves fighting for the same job, and it isn't glorious. With LeSean McCoy as the obvious starter and Dion Lewis as the likely back up, the two rookies will be fighting for the third running back slot.

Right out the gate, Polk has the obvious advantage. Being a three year starter and going up against tough defenses in the Pac-10, Polk has good knowledge of how to pass protect as well as learn to pick up the blitz. Meanwhile, Brown is going to be very green when it comes to protecting the Quarterback, and his ability to recognize a blitzing linebacker will not be as strong as his counterpart. Seeing as Brown has not played football in basically 3 years, it's understandable why his knowledge of protection would be lacking, but the question is whether or not the Eagles would have the patience to teach him.

But if there's anything the former Vol has on Polk, it's undeniable potential, and potential that hasn't nearly been tapped into. For a guy who is 5'11" and 223 lbs., Bryce Brown 4.48 40 yard dash time makes you do a double take. He is explosive off the line, and possess some pretty impressive strength. What he had shown flashes of his rookie year at Tennessee, he's showing on the practice field in Lehigh. In the beginning of camp, Bryce Brown ran over Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie like "an 18-wheeler vs. a bug on I-95" as Eagles writer Garry Cobb described. 

Meanwhile, Polk has been anything but impressive early. Most beat writers who saw him at rookie camp described him as slow, and just did not look as many had expected him to. However, Polk may be turning a corner as he broke open an impressive 50 yard run in 7-on-7 drills in camp the other day.

Prediction: Give the edge to Bryce Brown here. It won't be what Chris Polk did to lose the job, but what Brown did to earn it. He came into camp looking great and ready for a fresh new start, and a clear mind could lead to some great production. Also, Polk's durability will be an issue. His shoulder injury is what caused his draft stock to plummet, and it's what may lose him an NFL job. This is the only instance in which Brown's inexperience helps here. His limited college appearances make him relatively fresh, and his body hasn't taken as many hits as most college players have. 

Both will get a majority of the reps in the Preseason, but expect Brown to win the job here.

Jake Pavorsky is a contributor for Eagledelphia. You can follow him on Twitter @JakePavorsky.

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