KNOXVILLE TN - SEPTEMBER 18: Tauren Poole #28 of the Tennessee Volunteers breaks away from Janoris Jenkins #1 of the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium on September 18 2010 in Knoxville Tennessee. Florida won 31-17. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Some players are gathering some early pre-Combine buzz coming out of this week's East-West Shrine Game and one of those frequently mentioned thus far is former Tennessee RB Tauren Poole. Poole, 5'10 206, followed up his 1000+ yard, 2nd team All-SEC 2010 season with a less successful 2011 campaign while rushing for 683 yards and five touchdowns. From what I've found, he'd be a middle-round target most likely and because many people have surmised that the Seahawks could be going with a running back in this year's Draft at some point, I figure I'd throw his name out there.
Here follows some analysis from the writers/scouts covering the Shrine Game this week, and check out some videos from Draft Breakdown and JPDraftJedi after the jump.
Thomas Melton on Monday: "Poole is the top running back in St. Petersburg in my opinion. It's not easy to evaluate running backs when everyone is in shells and no one can tackle, but Poole displayed quality burst to hit the hole today. Obviously it will be easier to see more when they have pads on the rest of the week, so I will definitely have my eyes on Poole tomorrow. He may not go higher than round 4 or so but I think he can contribute to a NFL team as a rookie at running back. I'll have an interview with Tauren later this week as well, so keep an eye out for that."
Melton continued today: Tauren Poole (Tennessee) continues to impress and I still think he's the best back here. He's not going to walk into the NFL and start as a couple scouts have pointed out for the past two days, but I do think he can contribute immediately. He's not going to rip off huge chunks of yardage and make the big highlight runs, but I think he will be a reliable back in the NFL. He strikes me as a nice 4th or 5th round pick-up that will make the team and contribute more than people expected coming in. He's my early favorite for the Offensive MVP of the game on Saturday.
Optimum Scouting's Eric Galko, from Monday: "Overall, it was tough to get a read on the running backs because the practice was pad-less, but it was pretty obvious that Tennessee's Tauren Poole is going to be (as expected) the best running back here. He exploded well through the hole, was decisive in his cuts, and just looked like the polished running back he is."
National Football Post's Wes Bunting: "Running back Tauren Poole of Tennessee continues to impress with his ability to press the line of scrimmage quickly, be decisive in the hole and accelerate into daylight. He can put his foot in the ground and get North/South quickly and overall has been the best back on the East roster; looks like a solid number two guy at the next level."
Rookie Draft's Joe Everett: "Talked to RB Tauren Poole, Tennessee & he told me his last 40 was a 4.52 & he expects to shed that time down to the 4.4s by the combine."
Rotoworld's Josh Norris: "Teams want different skills in running backs but the most natural runner her is Tauren Poole. Makes quick decisions behind the line in time."
From these accolades and from watching the videos below, he does look like a good candidate for the zone-blocking scheme the Seahawks' employ. When you watch the 2010 video below from when they played Oregon, the Vols appear to feature fullback lead-blocking on a good amount of their interior runs, and this is something the Seahawks liked to do with increased frequency this season. Poole shows good burst and decision making on which lanes to take. On the other hand, Tennessee rarely lead blocks with a fullback against Alabama below, and he still breaks open a few good runs.
He definitely looks the part as that 'put your foot in the ground and knife downfield' kind of running back so I'm intrigued. Let me know what you guys think.