In ways neither he nor anyone at UW ever could have imagined, Chris Polk became one of the big stories of the NFL Draft by not being drafted.
It was a shocking fall for a player who could have returned for one more season (that he was officially listed as a senior was a paper work technicality and if they had applied to get him one more year, he would have received it and could have come back). Instead, he left for the NFL, seemingly assured of being a mid-round pick at the worst.
As Polk slid, rumors surfaced that concerns over his health were more severe than thought, basically keeping him off a number of draft boards. There were also several different variations on what the injury issues were, most reporting it was his shoulders but one mentioning a hip. He had well-documented shoulder issues at UW (more of which below) but never anything with a hip. He also had a relatively minor knee surgery before last season.
In talking to a few people here at UW after the Spring Game, all expressed surprise at what happened with Polk and said there was nothing injury-wise anyone here knew that was that severe.
Shortly after the draft, Polk signed as a free agent with the Eagles, and a little while later talked to the reporter with NFLDraftScout.com with whom he had done a project during the run-up to the draft.
Here’s that story, in which the shoulder issues are discussed, and in which Polk seems to indicate he had another shoulder surgery before last season.
If he did have a shoulder surgery before the 2011 season, we never heard of that one.
But in doing some quick refreshing of my own memory on this today, I found the stories detailing his initial shoulder injuries at UW.
To recap: Polk suffered what was described alternately as a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum in 2008 against BYU; and then another similar, though different, injury to the same shoulder against Arizona in 2009. He had surgery after the BYU injury and missed the rest of the year, the reason he could have come back in 2012 if he’d wanted. He played through the 2009 injury and had surgery after the season. Each time, he then also missed the following spring to rehab.
I’d kind of forgotten how serious Polk described each of those injuries at the time until re-reading the stories today. Given all of that, the question may not be so much whether he should have stayed for one more year, but whether he should have left following the 2010 season.
The reality, though, is that none of it matters now and Polk has signed with a team and will get a chance, even if not quite the contract he might have envisioned.