I reviewed Ben Powers’ game versus Texas (10/6/18) and wanted to share my observations.
Powers had 58 scored snaps in this game, which excludes accepted penalties. To put this in context, he had perhaps 800 scored snaps (as I define them) for the season.
Let’s start with the typical writeup format I would use for a Ravens game:
Ben played well, excepting a costly holding penalty which negated a 28 yard run by Murray (Q3, 0:14). I charged him with half of the penetration on Murray’s fumble (Q3, 8:20) when he tripped over C Creed Humphrey while pulling and was unable to pick up LB Gary Johnson who came free off the right edge. Humphrey also obstructed him from effectively blocking a defender when he slipped off his block on what might have been called a chop block at the NFL level (Q1, 0:17).
His only pass-blocking charge came when he was left alone on the left edge against Big 12 Lineman of the Year Charles Omenihu (Q2, 10:09). He was unable to stay with Omenihu who contained Murray’s escape left and was eventually credited with the sack. Because the primary pressure came from the opposite side, I charged him with just 1/3 of that sack, but reports that he played through the entire season without a sack are due to the fact PFF does not count partial events. He made 4 blocks in level 2, had 1 pancake, scored 1 of 3 points on pulls, and had 3 highlight blocks. The most impressive of those was a combination on NT Chris Nelson followed by a move to level 2 to block LB Johnson (Q4, 3:00). After being driven 10 yards downfield, Johnson was visibly upset with Powers.
Scoring: 58 plays, 54 blocks, 2 missed, ½ penetration, 1/3 sack, 1 holding, 45 points (.78 per play). With adjustment for competition, that’s a B- at guard.
Summarizing my qualitative observations:
— He displayed a fine pass-blocking anchor. He squares up well with his opponent and doesn’t give ground easily. He’s the sort of lineman who can be particularly effective wearing on an interior pass rusher, because he leans on his opponent rather than simply punching and reacting like a technician.
— Texas ran relatively few blitzes and stunts in this game, so I’m not able to opine on how Powers deals with deceptive pass rush elements.
— Another thing to like about him as a pass blocker is the way he looks for work. Texas used a number of 3 and 4-man fronts, but often left a LB to spy Murray rather than blitz. That occasionally left Powers without anyone to block. Not only was he effective doubling with the C or LT, but he twice moved a gap to make a pickup. One 3rd and 3 (Q3, 5:11), he initially blocked Omenihu, then handed off to help pick up a blitzer, then moved to pick up DE Breckyn Hager in the backfield as Murray extended the play. He won’t have such opportunities often, but it’s easy to project that awareness as an asset with a QB like Lamar Jackson.
— In this game, 3 different Texas players (LB Johnson, LB Graham, NT Wilson) displayed their displeasure with Powers blocking to the echo of the whistle. It’s often true that an angry player is a tired player, so Powers’ physical style has game value.
— Powers regularly participated in double teams in this game and Oklahoma was able to get the desired defender movement more often than not. Recalling the second half of the 2018 season, it’s easy to imagine Powers, teamed with any C or LT, would be able to create more opportunities for first contact in level 2. PFF recently tweeted a graphic which demonstrated outstanding yards after contact by Gus Edwards in the middle of the field.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 18, 2019
That’s a function of the number of times the Ravens were able to create opportunities where that first contact came in level 2 or 3, and was initiated by a smaller defender. Simply put, linemen miss tackles much less frequently, so scheming to get backs to level 2 untouched is central to an effective downhill run game.
— I was neither impressed nor distressed with Powers’ mobility. While the Oklahoma freshman center Humphrey is huge, he didn’t have the cleaner footwork we saw from Matt Skura in 2018. Skura rarely obstructed a pull in either direction despite an imperfect anchor. Powers did not appear to be out of his element when looking for work in L2. In this game he found a block on all 4 opportunities and didn’t look awkward lunging for contact. This is an area where he was not graded well by most scouts, but you can put me down for “hopeful” based on this game.
— Powers is proportioned like an NFL lineman. He’ll have an opportunity for additional sculpting at the NFL level, but he already seems to have the “sand in the pants” to which Mike Mayock often referred.
It’s reasonable to expect Powers will immediately compete for a starting job on the OL. Harbaugh delayed before giving the starting RT assignment to Orlando Brown at midseason 2018 after Hurst’s injury. He has been less guarded in his praise of Powers since the draft. Ironically, James Hurst may again be the player who prevents Powers from getting an immediate starting nod.