However, he isn't real fluid laterally and struggles to break down and make people miss in tight areas. Is more of a linear runner who does a nice job running with a low pad level and does a nice job not exposing too much of his frame. Possesses a strong lower half, pumps his legs through contact and can shrug off defenders and churn out tough yards inside.
Exhibits a decent thump as a blocker as well, but doesn't do a good job of using his hands to stick to defenders through the play. Is more of just an initial pop guy who then will quickly fall off the block. Has the body control to catch the football out of the backfield, but isn't shifty enough to consistently make the initial man miss.
Is more impressive in the open field than given credit for. Possesses good straight-line speed for his size, has the vision and patience to cut against the grain and accelerates well out of his breaks. Possesses a strong stiff arm to keep himself clean and set up blocks and use his sneaky speed to create in the open field. However, runs more upright once he gets into the clear and will expose himself to more hits at the second level.
Impression: You almost have to wonder what was wrong with this guy as a junior. He's physical, presses the hole quickly and can be a threat in the open field. Isn't real sudden or shifty in tight areas and is more of a linear runner. But has a good enough size/speed combo to make an NFL roster and contribute in more of a zone-blocking scheme."
Weaknesses: Gets sideways too often; will not be able to elude NFL defenders in the backfield. Can run a bit out of control, with limbs flailing instead of his normal in-tight, ball-high stance to prevent fumbles. Only adequate cut-back vision, sometimes making defenders miss with a quick cut inside but often running into traffic when an open lane is available. Active pass protector, looking in multiple gaps to find late blitzers; lowers shoulder and leans, however, whiffing instead of taking on defenders square-on and moving his feet."
Powell could be a great number two back.
Powell was a two star recruit who played corner as well as running back in high school. He received numerous carries in his first three seasons, and picked up the load as a senior at Louisville to finish his career on a high note.
Powell is quite the physical specimen. He is very muscular and well built, being very lean and in shape. He has a great combination of size and speed. He runs well between the tackles and has the speed and quickness to cut back and gain extra yardage hitting the open space. His balance is exceptional and he doesn’t go down easily, especially by simple arm tackles. He has good acceleration as he can burst quickly off of his cuts.
He needs to work on his footwork and agility. Sometimes he doesn’t want to hit the hole straight on, and he’ll improvise and try to make something out of nothing. He got away with outrunning inferior Big East competition rather than making a lot of cuts and lateral moves, which he won’t get away with in the NFL. Sometimes he runs a bit too tall, and he hasn’t had many opportunities to catch the ball out of the backfield, so he’s unproven in that aspect.
It’s hard to judge where the backs will be taken in the 2011 NFL Draft. Powell is quite talented, and has some of the biggest upside out of all the non-first round running backs (which is only really Mark Ingram and maybe Mikel LeShoure). I think Powell is a lock to be drafted in the late second to early third round area. I think he’s an excellent candidate to compliment Knowshon Moreno in Denver with pick 67, or even head to Arizona with pick 69. San Francisco, Dallas, and New Orleans also could take a look in the early second round.
NFL Comparison: Fred Jackson "
Positive: Nice sized interior runner coming off a sensational campaign. Runs low to the ground, shows a burst through the hole, and does not go down without a fight. Works his runs, plays with quickness, and falls forward when tackled. Solid receiver out of the backfield. Resilient, keeps his feet moving up the field, and works runs hard.
Negative: Must show better patience waiting for his blocks to develop. More of a one-speed back with marginal burst. Cannot cut back against the grain and loses momentum when he must immediately change direction.
Analysis: Powell was rated as a free agent coming into the season but has moved himself into the late rounds after a great senior campaign. He has the skills and style to be a third back on an NFL roster and should only get better as he completes his game."
Negatives: Cuts are a little too upright and slow at the line of scrimmage... Not very creative in the lane... Has an upright running style, absorbs a lot of big hits and leaves the football exposed far too often... Lacks vision, consistently outruns his blockers and misses cutback lanes... Dealt with a lingering knee injury in 2010... Only has one year of solid production, will have to prove that this year wasn't an aberration... Likely to settle in as a change of pace back at the next level with his upright running style, won't be able to carry the load... Just an average receiver out of the backfield... Is left handed and heavily favors carrying the ball in his left arm, likes to run to the left side of the field and doesn't always change hands when he goes to the right side of the field, leaving the ball exposed for defenders."
Weaknesses: Ran behind a senior-dominated offensive line which may have elevated his senior year's stats somewhat. One year wonder, who was only a bit contributor prior to this past season. Could use more leg strength, as he often seems to have a hard time breaking tackles around his legs. Average ball security. Average hands, and not very experienced as a pass receiver. Lacks elite open field moves.
Projection: 2nd or 3rd rounder."
As a true freshman Powell only rushed 24 times for 187 yards, but he reached the end zone twice. Powell got more carries in 2008, but his yards per carry average dropped for 7.8 as a freshman to 4.8 as a sophomore. However, Powell was still progressing nicely and ended up starting one game in 2008 and rushing for 354 yards and two touchdowns on 75 carries.
In 2009 the attempts again went up, but the yards per game again went down. Powell ended the 2009 campaign rushing 108 times for 392 yards. Those are not great numbers, but Powell did reach the end zone four times and added 12 receptions for 103 yards.
It was not until his senior season when Powell began to shine. During a relatively forgettable season for Louisville, Powell has been one of the few bright spots. In 11 games, Powell rushed 211 times for 1,259 yards and ten touchdowns. He also added 16 receptions for 148 yards and three more scores. Powell is just 100 yards away from breaking the schools single season rushing record and will have a good opportunity to do so during the Beef O'Brady's Bowl against Southern Miss."
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