BGA: Scouting Walt Powell

Yesterday, the Jets announced several roster moves, including successful waiver claims on WR/KR Walt Powell and CB Philip Adams. Jets fans might not know too much about these two players, so I’ve been looking at game film to try and assess what each of them brings to the table. I’ll look at Adams later today, but for now we’re assessing Powell.

Powell is a rookie receiver and kick returner who is 5’11” and 189 pounds. The Cardinals selected him in the 6th round of this year’s draft but he did not make it through final cuts despite catching six passes for 106 yards and averaging 25.7 yards per kick return in preseason. He replaces Quincy Enunwa on the active roster, with Enunwa likely reverting to the practice squad as long as he clears waivers, which the Jets will hope waiting a day or two makes more likely.

After the jump, observations from reviewing footage from preseason to evaluate Powell’s strengths and weaknesses.

Who is Walt Powell?

Powell was a small school prospect out of Murray State, where he led for three straight years in receiving. He was also a team captain and productive kick and punt returner. At the scouting combine, he ran a disappointing time in the 40-yard dash. However, he was apparently suffering from an injured foot and did much better at his pro day (4.44). Gil Brandt also reported that he put on an impressive display on the field at his pro day, which no doubt factored into the Cardinals picking him up in the sixth round.

Powell apparently impressed at camp and was able to avoid being a final cut for the Cardinals after a solid preseason, only to then be released one day later. The Cardinals have a pretty deep receiver unit so it’s a good sign that he was in the mix there.

Although we don’t have too much to go on (117 offensive snaps), we can still learn a lot from his preseason performances.

Preseason

Week 1 – v Houston

In this game, Powell caught three passed for 74 yards on four targets and had a tackle on special teams. He made an immediate impact with a 45 yard gain down the sideline. This appeared to be a blown coverage, but he made a nifty move downfield to avoid a safety and pick up 20 extra yards. His next catch saw him gain 18 on an out pattern which he caught high and then turned upfield for some extra yards. His final reception saw him make a first down catch just beyond the marker on a curl route. Powell was also targeted deep on two long bombs down the sideline and had a step each time but the pass was overthrown and sailed out of bounds. One was negated by a penalty anyway. He also had a solid special teams tackle at the 16 on kick coverage. The only real negatives were that he was twice called for holding and also was responsible for an illegal formation penalty.

Week 2 – at Minnesota

Powell was targeted three times in this game, making two nine yard catches. The first of these was on a quick slant for a first down and the second came as he stopped just short of the marker on a timing route. On each occasion he had a defensive back draped all over him. His other target was some kind of a communication breakdown as he ran a deep in-route and the quarterback threw right down the seam. He did have another throw his way, a low throw that he could come up with on a diving attempt, but the defense was offside anyway so this didn’t count. Powell had mixed results as a blocker in this game. On one play he motioned to the edge but seemed unsure of who to block and ended up getting in the runner’s way and on another he didn’t sustain his block on the edge although the runner still was able to make a short yardage conversion. He did make a good open field block on a defensive back on a screen pass though. On special teams, he got work as a gunner, drawing some double team attention but not really getting close to the return man.

Week 3 – v Cincinnati

Powell didn’t see much action on offense in this game and wasn’t targeted. However, he was used as a return man for the first time. On one kickoff return, he made 24 yards, eluding the first man and then turning the corner before being forced out at the 20. On another though, he slipped as he went to make his first cut and faceplanted at the 15. On one punt return, he made seven yards but that was negated by a hold. Once again, he was flagged for lining up in the wrong spot on offense.

Week 4 – at San Diego

In this game, Powell got plenty of opportunities, with one rushing attempt for two yards, a 14-yard catch on one of his two targets, a chance to field punts and five kick returns. He made the best impact as a kick returner, getting out past the 25 on four of his five attempts. He broke two tackles on his longest return, a 37-yarder, and showed good vision and cuts on the other three. The only time he failed saw him start to go East-West at about the 15 at which point bad blocking led to him being snowed under at the 13. He was less successful as a punt return man, with his longest return being just four yards as he eluded the first man but not the second wave. There was one punt where he perhaps made an ill-advised and awkward catch in traffic.

His one catch was a nice play on 3rd and nine. They looked for him underneath on a short crossing route and he was wide open. The pass was slightly behind him but he adjusted, reversed his field and eluded three defensive players to get past the marker for a gain of 14. His other target saw him tightly covered on a quick slant that was thrown high. They were looking for him on another play, an out pattern where he seemed to be open, but that was batted down at the line. His rushing attempt saw him run an end around pattern behind the quarterback who then pitched it to him on a read option on 3rd and three. He was nailed short of the marker in the open field. Once again he was called for a hold while blocking on a wide receiver screen, as he let his man leverage off the block.

Observations

Based on all the footage watched, here was what Powell brings to the table, divided into categories:

Measurables - As noted, Powell calmed doubts about his lack of speed with a solid forty time at his pro day. However, looking at the rest of his measurables, they’re mostly about average. He did have a very good three-cone drill (6.70) and does have big hands, which makes up in part for his short arms. Powell is a bit slight and will probably need to bulk up and add some strength.

Usage - Powell played both in the slot and outside in preseason. He was also put into motion quite a lot, often motioning to the edge of the line as an effective “move TE”. In college, he played as the Z receiver which means he can be put into motion and would need quickness and slot-like skills.

Deep threat – While Powell didn’t have any deep catches in preseason, he did beat his man deep a couple of times on unsuccessful throws.

Blocking - The Jets have targeted good blockers with most of the receivers they’ve added of late, but Powell is a bit of a work in progress here. He’s definitely a willing blocker, but in the small sample size preseason gave me, there were too many examples of players muscling off his blocks and him having to grab to keep on top of them.

Routes - Powell is fast and can make sharp cuts, but I’d say his route running needs a little refinement. A defensive back was all over him on quite a few of his targets where he might have got better separation by getting deeper into his route, disguising it better or just by being more physical at the break.

Hands - Powell seems to make smooth hands catches. The only two he didn’t come up with were a high throw that was on him quickly and a low throw which he dived for. In each case these were practically uncatchable and I wouldn’t call them drops. Some of the catches he did make were in tight coverage.

Yards after the catch – Powell made some good plays after the catch on three of his six catches, so there’s some definite promise here, especially in an offense like the Jets’ which seeks to get playmakers the ball in the open field.

Instincts - Other than the one run blocking play where he looked a little lost and the play where he apparently ran a different route to what the quarterback was expected, there weren’t many negative signs here. He was described as smart in the pre-draft process. He did line up in the wrong spot twice, though, causing two illegal formation penalties.

Special Teams – Here’s where Powell has a real chance to contribute. Saalim Hakim was not impressive returning kicks in preseason, while Powell was. He seems to read his blocks well and negotiates traffic too. He was less convincing on punt returns, but then again only got to field a handful and didn’t make any major errors. He looked okay on kick coverage and when employed as a gunner, but wasn’t outstanding in those roles.

Attitude - As a former team captain, Powell’s intangibles are highly touted. He’s apparently a hard worker and passionate about learning his craft and getting better (which he does need to work at in several areas). He did have an arrest for domestic violence in his past but that was thrown out due to lack of evidence.

Injuries – Powell is healthy at the moment. He did miss the last two games of last season with a foot injury but doesn’t appear to have any major medical red flags.

Conclusions

Something to watch for with all these waiver claims is that the team might keep the player for a day or two, then try to sneak them onto their practice squad. It’s a tactic the Jets have employed in the past at this time of year. However, if Powell can impress with his kickoff return skills this week, I could see him being active on Sunday. Philip Adams is not eligible, but I could definitely see the Jets taking that approach with Leon McFadden who is, in my opinion, far too green to risk throwing out there for any meaningful snaps.

Powell himself is pretty green as a receiver (although I quite like his potential based on what I saw) but gives the Jets another option who can at least line up there and perhaps have a few special packages to utilise his skill-set. Much like Hakim and Jalen Saunders, it’s on special teams where he’s going to be able to forge himself a role.

Some stats from PFF were used in the completion of this article.




328 comments
metjetnet
metjetnet

Hmmm, from this, I wonder… it sounds he'd be more of a threat to a Special Teams type like Hakeem than to a possession receiver like Enunwa...

jetsjerk
jetsjerk

I need help and was wondering if anyone knows of a good quality website that shows all of the Jets games.  I tried and loved the preseason.nfl.com, but they only show preseason live and the season games are in retrospect and I want the season games live.  I found this site in a search, but they look cheesy: http://nfllivestream.com/  Any help from a JETS fan would be greatly appreciated...J-E-T-S!

gbrownn
gbrownn

Me likes Powell, adds another playmaking element to our recieving core. So many layers to this group of pass catchers this year:

Size guys-Decker,Nelson,Amaro,Sudfield.

Deep threat/Playmakers-Decker,Saunders,CJ,Walter Powell

Route Technicians-Decker,Kerley,Nelson,Salas.

We just need them to be dependable(catch the damn ball) and this offense by default take a huge step.  MM has to love all the different things he can do with this group. Levels to this shhhh

a57se
a57se

I was thinking over the weekend that Rex has not drafted one quality CB since he came to the Jets (Milliner is not their yet so I can't count him) and I can't think of a quality CB he drafted with the ravens....

He seems to be good at finding run stuffing D'linemen with mediocre pass rushing ability...

He is not very good at FB's or QB's (Boyd and Sanchez...apparently)

He needs a GM like Ozzie who is very good at talent eval to get him players he can mold.

Idzik doesn't fit that mold.


williamg1
williamg1

Seemed like the guys MM talked up to the press before cutdowns, ended up being cut. Pretty clear he was attempting to try and create some sort of market for Hill and Gates. 

Nothing scarier than MM praise around cutdown time. Your azz is gone. 

jvsvn
jvsvn

Sounds like Powell is a pretty solid pick up for a waiver guy. Anybody who has a knack for actually producing in games is worth a look. This guy was a 6th round pick and it sounds like he came in and played pretty much like you'd want out of somebody drafted at that level (with rookie mistakes and all). Has pretty much the same profile as Saunders. Makes you wonder if he is somebody the Jets had their eye on pre-draft. He's now our 13th draft choice. Could be a find. 

juunit
juunit

"G's up Ho's down."


- John Idzik

idothis2
idothis2

The logic behind exchanging Cro for Patterson is perplexing. i didn't know much about Patterson before he joined the Jets, but he seemed to have diva qualities. 

jetsjerk
jetsjerk

@metjetnet Hakim is a speedy gunner on ST that will be coached to not overrun the returner like he did a few time in preseason, and nobody on the team is that fast.  So, I think he's more a Kerley replacement for next year.

jetsjerk
jetsjerk

@gbrownn Agreed, but you left out Speedsters: Hakim, Saunders, Kerley.  

jdb4
jdb4

@a57se 

You are being especially pessimistic the past few days, even for your usual self. 

Brian Serviss
Brian Serviss

@a57se  are you seriously blaming Rex for not drafting for the Ravens as a defensive coordinator and defensive line coach? How many defensive line or coordinators do you know that have the say when it comes to drafting? 

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se Is it the "finding" that he's good/bad at for each of these positions or the "developing"?

williamg1
williamg1

@levi


Player To Watch: D’Brickashaw Ferguson will be torn between doing what’s best for team and protecting Geno Smith’s blind side

a57se
a57se

@levi 

That is very funny!!!

Nice find levi!

tsjc68
tsjc68

@levi

Air Traffic Controller: This fog's getting thicker.

Johnny: And Leon's getting LAAAAAAAARGER!!!

levi
levi

@williamg1 Its getting so you cant trust any of these guys. Theyre all liars.

Paul Samuels
Paul Samuels

@jvsvn YEah, he is even a slight upgrade over Hill, which is sad considering where both guys were drafted. 

tsjc68
tsjc68

@jvsvn

Good (but not great) speed, can return kicks reasonably well, shows hands worthy of development as a subpackage slot guy...


Just like cutting LeQuan Lewis for Leon McFadden (and then stashing Lewis on the practice squad), if we're cutting Quincy Enunwa to stash him on the PS and develop him while adding Powell's speed and ST contributions, that's a sound, solid move.

williamg1
williamg1

@jvsvn He replaces the FB we drafted in the 6th (who attempted to play QB). 

Bytor
Bytor

@idothis2 Simple plan, he's a short term solution until Dex can take over. Unfortunately two things that are impossible to predict happened, insanity and injury.

tsjc68
tsjc68

@idothis2

The logic behind exchanging Cro for Patterson is perplexing. 


Scheme fit.

Brendan
Brendan

@idothis2 Cromartie was a media source, I'm pretty sure that's why the team didn't inquire about him once he was resigned to signing a cheap deal. 

a57se
a57se

@idothis2 

Oh, that's easy!

Cro was the worst CB in the elague last season!

a57se
a57se

@jdb4 @a57se 

I am losing faith in rex and I am very down on Idzik...I think we might be in for a full blown regime change soon. That would really be disappointing.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se 

From what I have seen, he is very good at developing guys who have talent...just not so good at identifying the right guys...

Monty
Monty

@williamg1 @levi   Bills Key Rookie: Sammy Watkins has the ability to get open downfield and watch his quarterback get sacked

williamg1
williamg1

@levi @williamg1 Can't blame em. Its business. Sort of like staging a house before you put it on the market. 

idothis2
idothis2

@Bytor @idothis2 cro provided the same short term solution as patterson and proved over a longer period to be the superior cb

a57se
a57se

@Bytor @idothis2 

So the plan was that a third round (reach) CB from a small school who was injured and played against inferior college talent was gonna be the answer at CB???

Brilliant!

idothis2
idothis2

@tsjc68 cro could press with the best of them....when he felt like it

idothis2
idothis2

@Brendan @idothis2 i don't have a ship be sinking feel yet, but the the cb position is starting to get the wr feel of last year. just waiting for the games to be played 1st

Mateen Kemet
Mateen Kemet

@a57se @idothis2 he was HURT and layed hurt for the team.  That shold be rewarded not get you bounced.  At his best Ptterson is not as good as Cro when Cro is at his best.  no doubt.

idothis2
idothis2

@a57se @idothis2 damn near the worst while injured

@a57se @jdb4 Really? The Jets roster is stronger at category-QB, RB, OL, TE and WR, defense too - DL,LB's, Safties and CB's. I will agree the Jets will need to draft another WR and maybe a CB. What I like is that the team is actually developing players. This was not done during the Tanny years.

Steven Windeler
Steven Windeler

@a57se @jdb4  I agree.

It's been a very disappointing season.

Hard to believe we're mathematically eliminated before the first game.

Might be a new low.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se You've been down on Idzik since he hired him. "Losing faith" implies that you at one time had faith. 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se I think this is a very general and inaccurate stance to take. He's hit or miss when it comes to talent evals, like all coaches. 

tsjc68
tsjc68

@idothis2 @Bytor

True.


And, before we knew the unknowable (that Patterson would pull a diva move and just decide to not show up for work), Patterson still represented a sounder, safer, less risky investment for even a short-term stopgap CB for 2014 than Cro did, because 2014 Patterson was younger, healthier, and a better scheme fit than 2014 Cromartie.

Bytor
Bytor

@idothis2 @Bytor Hip issues man. A CB with hip issues is toast. With the new rule enforcement not helping Cro's game, passing makes a lot of sense to me. 

ps-I loved Cro the warrior.

Brendan
Brendan

@idothis2 And then he started spilling details to Manish on behalf of his cousin to try and pressure the Jets into upping their offer, and the team didn't like that (as one with a brain would expect). 


I like Cro, I still think he's misunderstood by most and he's willing to go to war as long as he can walk. But he wore out his welcome here, I can't fault the team for that. 

Bytor
Bytor

@a57se @Bytor @idothis2 You must have missed the part of my post where I said "until Dex can take over." Could have been game 3, 6, 12, next year.

I think the men in Florham Park have more of a clue than some dudes with an internet connection.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Maryland University is now a small school, apparently. 

tsjc68
tsjc68

@idothis2

Agreed.


The fact that he rarely felt like it makes him a poor scheme fit, though.

tsjc68
tsjc68

@Mateen Kemet @a57se @idothis2

Cro is a warrior who played through pain.  For that he should be commended.


What he shouldn't be, though, is resigned.  Because a hurt Cro, while noble, is an awful football player.

idothis2
idothis2

@tsjc68 i have to disagree. when patterson is injured he doesn't play. cro played through the pain. that's the type of players you keep i think

idothis2
idothis2

@Brendan being the loose lip in his relatives negotiations is a forgivable offense to me especially when that player pretty much laid down on the grenade for you during the last season

tsjc68
tsjc68

@Bytor @a57se @idothis2

He didn't miss it, he just ignored it, because he doesn't care for dealing with actual facts in his anti-Idzik nitpicking.

juunit
juunit

@Brendan @a57se 

The ACC had more players drafted than any other division this year as well. 

tsjc68
tsjc68

@Brendan @a57se

And it's apparently a reach if you take a guy in the third round that other teams also wanted to take in the third round.

BDarc23
BDarc23

@Mateen Kemet @tsjc68 @idothis2 @Bytor Cro was horrible last year and has had other bad years as well. Rex seemed to love the guy so if they thought Cro was any good they would have signed him.  I dreaded 3rd down last year just knowing they would be picking on Cro.

tsjc68
tsjc68

@idothis2 @tsjc68

Patterson's backup playing in Patterson's place when he's injured >>>>>>. whatever you get from an injured Cro


Cro at peak health is a great CB.  Cro at non-peak health is a trainwreck, because he's never been a techincally proficient tactician.  He's always relied on athletic gifts to make plays.  When that athleticism is gone, he's a pretty damn awful CB, as 2013 demonstrated.

Bytor
Bytor

@idothis2 @tsjc68 You have to remember this plan assumes a healthy DMill. Patterson as #2 is perfectly reasonable with Dex taking over at some point or at least being mixed in. The hysterics are understandable because of Dee's uncertainty in starting the season.

I personally would feel a WHOLE LOT better if we knew our #1 would be back healthy soon.

Brendan
Brendan

@idothis2 All the goodwill generated by playing through pain (and I would agree that the team understood and appreciated Cro's playing through pain) was wiped away when he back-channeled the team. At that point, there's zero trust left, it's just best to move on. 

Brendan
Brendan

@idothis2 Front office personnel would look at this situation VERY differently. 

jdb4
jdb4

@tsjc68 @Bytor @a57se @idothis2 

Can everyone just calm down.  Rex proved capable of winning 8 games with atrocious QB play last year.  Something we would all argue is not to his coaching strengths.

Can we all just be patient and see what he does with a weakness on his coaching strength. 

tsjc68
tsjc68

@juunit @Brendan @a57se

You're crazy.  Dex McDougle should have been a UDFA, since he played at NAIA Peru State College and never faced a good WR, ever.

t__k
t__k

@tsjc68 @idothis2 You're advocating for Patterson over Cro on the basis he was healthier and a better scheme fit?  

idothis2
idothis2

@tsjc68 @idothis2 patterson's backup is now the starter and that makes me a little uneasy. cro's health is not an issue at present

idothis2
idothis2

@Brendan @idothis2 i get the front office personnel view, but i've seen a lot of "whimsical" that comes from corporate. perhaps if he wasn't injured they wouldve closed their eyes

tsjc68
tsjc68

@jdb4 @tsjc68 @Bytor @a57se @idothis2

Q: Can everyone just calm down? Can we all just be patient and see what he does with a weakness on his coaching strength?


A. Apparently, no, we cannot.

Brendan
Brendan

@idothis2 I doubt it. And by the time he signed he'd already had surgery and was rehabbing, so the team probably wasn't too worried about the hip. I think it was a situation where they were ready to move on from him barring something unforeseen, then the leaked comments about DRC made them shut the door on the idea of a reunion completely. 

a57se
a57se

@juunit @tsjc68 @Brendan @a57se 

McDougle played three frickin games last year...he looked like a mediocre college CB the year before...NOONE had him ranked as a 3rd round CB....

tsjc68
tsjc68

@a57se @juunit @tsjc68 @Brendan

McDougle played three frickin games last year...

True.

he looked like a mediocre college CB the year before...

False.

NOONE had him ranked as a 3rd round CB.... 

False.


You're 1-for-3.