When you put up 132 total yards and score two touchdowns in your first career start like Tony Pollard did last week against the San Francisco 49ers people tend to take notice. Pro Football Focus certainly did and has recently released some statistics that puts the Dallas Cowboys second-year running back in elite company.
According to Pro Football Focus, Tony Pollard is in the Top 5 in several key areas used to measure how effective a running back is by NFL standards. These numbers put him shoulder to shoulder with running backs like Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb, two of the more dominant RBs in the league the past few years.
Tony Pollard’s yards after contact per attempt compared to Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb is one of the more surprising stats PFF has shared in my opinion. At 6’0, 210 Pollard is at least 20 pounds lighter then Chubb (5’11”, 227) and nearly 40 pounds lighter than Henry (6’3″, 247). I think this is a testament to just how physical Pollard is despite his smaller stature compared to others.
According to PFF, Tony Pollard is ranked first in picking up yards after contact per attempt and forcing missed tackles per attempt since 2019. They also give him a rushing grade that ranks him in the Top 5 in the NFL as well.
Tony Pollard since 2019:4th in PFF rushing grade (89.8)1st in YAC per attempt (4.2)1st in forced missed tackles per attempt (0.25) pic.twitter.com/s9AVkFl5mJ
As impressive as PFF’s grades are for Tony Pollard they are a little out of context. As we know, No. 20 plays second fiddle to Ezekiel Elliott with the Dallas Cowboys and receives a fraction of the touches because of it. So, putting him in the company of Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb is a little unfair considering they receive at least twice as many touches as Pollard.
Despite all of that though, Tony Pollard’s numbers are still really impressive. It would be really interesting to see what he could do as a full-time starter and whether or not he would still grade out so well. If the 49ers game was any indication, I certainly wouldn’t bet against him being just as effective as a lead back in the NFL.