Anthony Miller’s rookie season was an absolute treat. And while he didn’t catch a ton of passes or gain 1,000 yards, Miller had a knack for making the sort of plays that moved the chains, a nose for the end zone, and an ability to be a consistent, reliable target for quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Moving forward, Miller’s success could open the door for future Memphis Tigers to make their way into the NFL, including one ex-teammate who’s standing out at the Senior Bowl and appears to be a fit for what the Chicago Bears want out of their running backs in the years to come.
Folks, meet Memphis running back Tony Pollard:
— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) January 24, 2019
Pollard has an interesting skill set that checks several boxes. He’s a do-it-all playmaker who provided an impact in several facets of the game. On the ground, Pollard averaged 7.1 yards per carry (78 attempts, 552 yards) and scored six rushing touchdowns. That’s neat. He also added 39 catches, 458 receiving yards, and three touchdown receptions. On top of chewing up yardage on the ground, modern backs need to show an ability to pick it out of the air and do big things in the passing game and Pollard has done just that. And as if that weren’t enough, Pollard tacked on 667 kick return yards and a touchdown last season. What’s not to like here? We’re talking about a triple-threat option who could bring an impact upon arrival as a rookie.
At the end of the year, the Bears were using Benny Cunningham and Taquan Mizzell Sr. in some pretty big spots in the return game and out of the backfield. And with all due respect to both, the drop off from them to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen is significant enough to begin thinking about upgrades (at running back and returner).
And there probably aren’t too many better options than Pollard, who left Memphis as a two-time American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year, after collecting seven kickoff return touchdowns (tied for an NCAA record).
The Bears don’t have a ton of cap space to make big splashes in free agency and aren’t in a position to take a marquee name since they don’t have a pick in the first two rounds of the draft. But the team can be creative in a place they’ve been resourceful in the past – in the middle and later rounds of the draft. Pollard will get a chance to strut his stuff at the Senior Bowl, where he can further make a strong impression on the Bears (and the other 31 teams in the league).