Birthday: April 19, 1981
Strengths: This Troy may be a Trojan, but his work on a football field is spartan-like. Troy Polamalu wipes the turf clean of ballcarriers at a record-setting pace. His 118 tackles in 2001, including twenty in the Las Vegas Bowl, were second in the PAC-10 and most at USC since 1986 when six-time NFL Pro Bowler Tim McDonald roamed the USC defensive backfield.
Polamalu is a playmaker on defense. He led the Trojans in interceptions last season with three, returning two of them for touchdowns. He also had three blocked punts last year. Polamalu’s efforts earned him All-American honors, the first safety to do so at USC since Mark Carrier in 1989.
His coach, Pete Carroll, calls his team captain and MVP "creative, fast, tough, and instinctive." Polamalu’s heart and motor only make it seem like he’s in on every play. With his speed, he can blitz, and with his strength, he can stuff the run. According to both the BLESTO and National scouting combines, Polamalu is the top senior safety prospect in the 2003 draft.
Areas for Concern: Polamalu does come up short in being… well, short. The NFL looks for a taller strong safety when taking one in the first round, but height isn’t an ultimate prerequisite for success. A similarly sized safety you may have heard of named Blaine Bishop would certainly agree.
Polamalu may be a demon in run defense, but he might be exposed in the passing game. He will need to show considerable improvement to lock in a first round draft status. Polamalu has made some big plays deep in coverage.
Though injuries have not been an issue on the college level, Polamalu was a virtual unknown leaving high school because of them. As a two-way star back then, playing running back and safety, the worst of the injuries may have been torn muscles in his back his senior year.
How Would He Look in Steel Blue? The Texans may want to wheel this gift horse into Reliant Stadium. Football is in Polamalu’s blood, literally, as several members of his family played on the college and NFL level. They all take pride in playing the Samoan style of football, which is to be a gentleman everywhere but on the field of play.
Houston fans can appreciate that approach. The 2003 draft class at strong safety is a deep one, but the Texans might give Polamalu extra consideration if he falls to the second round.
(profile written by Keith Weiland)
Troy Polamalu’s 2001 Stats G TCK PBU INT FF FR 12 118 9 3 0 1 Troy Polamalu Return to The War Room
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