With the 196th pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected wide receiver Walt Powell out of Murray State. Powell is a smaller receiver, similar to third-round pick John Brown, but he is more physical and a better blocker.
Finding information on Powell is a bit challenging, yes. Not many outlets had a draftable grade on him, but general manager Steve Keim gave the youngster a call anyway.
Conflicting reports on his 40-yard dash time are making it difficult to report Powell’s speed accurately. NFL.com has 4.63 seconds from his combine. NFLDraftScout.com reported 4.54 seconds from his combine and 4.44 seconds from his pro day. So who knows how fast he actually is?
What is known is how physical and willing to block he is. He will work all the way down the field on offense to get open. On special teams, he can return punts and kicks (but he won’t, according to head coach Bruce Arians at a press conference Saturday) and serve as a gunner on punt coverage.
He has value as a special teamer in that regard, but he will have a difficult time finding the field as a receiver on offense. With receiver Ted Ginn Jr. signed to a three-year deal and fellow rookie Brown and Jaron Brown above Powell on the depth chart, a spot will be hard to come by.
If he ends up making the roster, it would likely be as a special teams guy and a sixth receiver. Powell as the No. 5 receiver over a guy like Jaron Brown seems unlikely, as he impressed when he got the chance to play in 2013 despite playing very little.
Powell has decent upside, though, and could work his way up to the No. 4 guy down the road. His money will be made as a special teamer and emergency receiver. That’s nothing to scoff at, because defensive back Justin Bethel made the Pro Bowl last season as one of the best gunners in the NFL. He will move to cornerback this season and could finally get his chance to play on defense; it just goes to show you that hard work and patience can get you places.
That should be motivation for the rookie receiver from Murray State.
How do you feel about the prospects of Powell coming in as a rookie and competing on special teams and as a receiver?