Rookie Rundown #5: Ben Powers, OG, Oklahoma My reputation in this community is likely known as the guy who hates James Hurst and Matt Skura more than anything. I’ve gotten a lot of flack for it, but make no mistake about it, we needed to address the trenches. If there’s anything from this draft that I hated, it’s that I feel like we should’ve doubled down on the trenches rather than doubling down on wide receiver. Protection for your quarterback is far more important. That leads us to drafting Ben Powers. A prospect I like, but I didn’t think he was a scheme fit. So naturally, I went back to the tape. So is he a future starter on this line like several hope, or another miserable attempt to fix the offensive line play. Tape Overview He does not live up to his name. One could argue that he was the worst player on that Oklahoma offensive line, which sounds bad until you realize that Orlando Brown Jr., Cody Ford, Bobby Evans, and Dru Samia were all drafted. Even then Powers was still good enough to get drafted in the mid-rounds, but I thought he would’ve been better suited on a zone blocking team, possibly the Vikings. He’s not a powerful guy... But that doesn’t mean he’s bad. In fact, if there’s a slot for a non-fit on this team it’s his natural position, left guard. Greg Roman turned James Hurst into a competent (but still below average) pulling guard in 2017 to mask his issues in the run game. Like Hurst and Alex Lewis before him at the left guard spot, Powers can protect the quarterback, and do so very well. He protected both Mayfield and Murray beautifully. He’s fundamentally sound in pass protection, though my concerns lie with his flexibility, or lack-of-thereof. He needs to work on this or else his hand leverage is going to be a problem. This isn’t a sexy play, but it’s a man who clearly understands his assignment, has clean technique, and gets the job done. It’s not overwhelming dominance like his teammate Cody Ford, but at the end of the day, that’s a starting offensive lineman at the NFL level if he can pass protect consistently like that. He’s not overwhelmingly dominant, but he’s effective. You can’t have an all pro at every position, but from this right here, he can anchor. Which again, is better than a certain starting center on this team(seriously, he should’ve been cut already). If there’s one thing that this offensive line is going to be good at in 2019, it’s protecting Lamar Jackson as a passer. Stanley, Yanda, and Brown have proven themselves to be excellent, and that’s the one facet of the game where Hurst and Skura are semi-competent in. I actually think that Powers is an upgrade as a pass protector, and him being next to Ronnie Stanley will be a mutually beneficial deal. But running the ball is going to be this offense’s bread and butter. What about his abilities as a run blocker? This is where I get worried. In a scheme like this, where you are going to run both zone and power concepts on any given down, you want your offensive linemen to be as versatile as possible. I think where Powers lacks in raw strength, he makes for with fundamentally sound technique, intelligence, and leveraging as a run blocker. He is not going to get to the second level all the time, but there have been instances at the Oklahoma where his block was crucial to a big run. Powers is a very good puller. Unlike Hurst who was overrated in that regard. This is why I like the Justice Hill pick so much. Hill would also turn that into a long touchdown with his jump-cutting ability. Notice the puller who spurs open the run, it’s Powers. He doesn’t maul the guy, he’s not a great downblocker, but he can move, and he can use his technique to win. Practically most of the good run blocking plays I can find from Powers were as a puller, because that scheme was heavy on pulling. They pull their tackles too. They seldom run zone concepts, which makes it harder for me, but judging off of what he shows, I think he will be just fine. Powers needs to work on two things, I’ve noticed that he needs to get much stronger. He’s got plenty of mobility, and when he gets the chance, he wants to take a defensive linemen and wants to pancake them, but because he’s not functionally strong, he doesn’t do that too often. This, along with his flexibility causes concerns for me. He’s good to go as a starter, but how high could he fly? Greg Roman is going to make or break him in my eyes. He’s a good fit based off of his traits, as he’s well-coached, fundamentally sound, smart, and a solid technician who’s issues come more from flexbility issues than anything. But what will his future be at the NFL level if he continues to struggle vs. powerful rushers? At the end of the day, I see Powers becoming a starter, one who should be good to go on day one. There’s enough tape for me to be convinced that he’s good enough as a puller right now for us to properly use him on power runs with Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards. Powers, if he gets more powerful, should be good to go, and that’s my primary concern with him right now. In my eyes, if he gets stronger he’s a more well-rounded guard than either Alex Lewis or James Hurst, even if he’s not as good of a pass blocker as those two. I hate to say it, but he’s more valuable. If Harbaugh can get over his man crush on James Hurst and Matt Skura, we should field a pretty good unit, as Bozeman has flashed enough to me to be a starter on this team. Powers is an average run blocker and a good pass protector who needs some coaching. An average run blocker is a huge upgrade over who’ve we fielded at the left guard position over the past couple of years. Same goes for Bozeman, and I feel like if those two are in the starting lineup over the obvious liabilities, the entire team will be much better off for it. If Powers doesn’t start from day one, which given that it’s John Harbaugh I don’t expect him too, it’ll prove to me what I already know. Harbaugh plays favorites, and seldom gives fair chances to young players. We need to start Powers. He’s nothing special, but he looks like an NFL starter. Let’s hope he can become more Power(s)ful.