40: 4.55 (estimated)
Is quick to and through the hole, showing good straight-line burst. Is a good north-south runner does well as a one-cut running back. Has quick feet and shows ability and potential to set up defenders. Has a good jump cut to bounce things outside on the second level. Shows ability to sidestep a penetrating defender and has nice vision. Has good balance, able to hurdle a defender, but finds ways to sneak through lanes and seams on the second level. Runs hard with good pad level, fighting for extra yards and keeps his feet moving after contact. At times seems to crave contact particularly when he gets on the second level and can take on defensive backs who he likes to punish and finishes his runs well. Capable receiver in the flat and can adjust to the throw, and can make the first defender miss.
Not super shifty or explosive. Has enough speed to run outside the tackles, but is far less effective when you force him to go east and west. Dances a bit too much at times in the backfield. Needs to get thicker in his lower body. Will whiff on some pass protecting assignments.
Powell really blossomed as a senior, with the introduction of Charlie Strong as head coach and then installing a pistol offense. He had 229 carries for 1488 yards (6.1 avg), 11 touchdowns, and 18 catches, all career highs. Prior to that he primarily split carries with guys like Victor Anderson and Anthony Allen at Louisville, combining for 207 carries, 933 yards (4.5 avg), 8 touchdowns, and 27 receptions. He missed a game due to a minor knee injury late this past year. His playing weight was listed at around 215, so you'd like to see him put some muscle back on before the Combine. One wonders what took so long to make him emerge as a top college runner, although I've heard it was due to lacking maturity earlier in his career.
Powell reminds me a lot of Tashard Choice, in that he doesn't have quite the skillset to wow you, but he'll be an effective NFL runner when he does get the chance. Choice is probably a bit more explosive and better outside the tackles than Powell. But I think Powell is going to be a solid No. 2 runner, that in the right offense and with the blocking up front, can be a productive starter. Although it will remain to be seen like with Choice, whether or not he has the skillset to hold up for 16 games in such a role. He'll probably be best utilized if he can split carries with another player, particularly a change of pace runner and homerun threat. His pad level and pop is the best thing you like about him, and he would be labeled a power runner but because of his good vision and footwork, he was able to break a number of big runs, particularly early in the season. Powell is a player that I think can immediately stick as a reserve and depth guy, but eventually as he gains more experience at the pro level, I think he'll be a nice complementary runner with the potential to be a 1000-yard back in time.
Powell has the potential to be a better heir apparent to Turner than Snelling. He would give the Falcons another developmental backup and probably wouldn't pass SNelling on the depth chart as a rookie, but could certainly give him a run for his money as the guy that primarily gives Turner a breather by his second year. The key with his upward movement on the Falcons depth chart is how quickly he can develop and impact in pass protection. I think he's similar to Snelling in terms of his skillset, except he's probably a more natural runner and has greater upside. Powell has a chance to take over as the Falcons lead back and be a 15-20 carry guy three or four years down the road. And while I don't think he could be a fixture for years to come, he could give the team just enough as a stopgap starter for two or three years until they found the next great back.
Powell is a solid middle round pick, that probably gets drafted in the fourth, but if a team is looking for a nice developmental complementary back with starting potential, he would also merit late third round consideration.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Scouting reports of the running backs and fullbacks in the 2011 Draft.
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