Photo of Carlton Powell
Grade
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  • 6'3" Height
  • 300LBS. Weight

Overview

A number of Virginia Tech outside linebackers and defensive ends have had success over the years. Oftentimes, the tireless work of the defensive tackles who constantly took on multiple blockers in order to free up their teammates to make the big plays have been overshadowed.

Because of the constant multiple coverage that they face, the Hokies' defensive tackles do not have eye-opening statistics, but head coach Frank Beamer has noted the need for his defensive tackles to dominate vs. the inside running game.

While Tech has produced quality run-stuffing tackles in recent seasons, none has shown the ability to simply shut down the opposition's ground game the way Carlton Powell, Jr. can.

How dominant has Powell been? In 73 plays that he made vs. the run, he held the opponent to minus-21 yards rushing. Since Powell was inserted into the starting lineup, Tech has led the nation in total defense the last two years (2005-06) and led the Division 1-A ranks in scoring defense in 2006, after placing second the previous two seasons.

A prep inside linebacker during his first three years at Great Bridge High School, Powell shifted to defensive tackle as a senior while also competing on the offensive line. The All-Atlantic Region choice by Prep Star battled injuries during his final campaign, but still managed to registered 60 tackles, five sacks, five fumble recoveries and a blocked punt. As a junior, he totaled 80 tackles with seven sacks and 15 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Powell added honorable mention All-Eastern Region accolades and received a three-star prospect rating from Rivals.com. He was rated the 24th-best player in Virginia by The Roanoke Times and the state's 15th-ranked prospect by Super Prep. He was also a member of Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report All-Mid Atlantic team. He was a standout weight performer on the school's track team, finishing seventh in the Group AAA outdoor shot put competition as a senior.

Powell enrolled at Virginia Tech in 2003, turning down scholarship offers from Maryland, East Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. He spent his first season at Tech competing on the scout team. In 2004, he appeared in 13 games as part of the team's defensive tackle rotation. He registered 17 tackles (seven solo) with 7 1/2 stops behind the line of scrimmage, six quarterback pressures and a pass deflection. In 19 plays vs. the run, he held the opponent to minus-17 yards rushing.

As a sophomore, Powell started five of 12 games at defensive tackle, missing the Duke game after spraining his ankle vs. North Carolina State in the season opener. He made 13 tackles (three solo) with an assisted sack and 1 1/2 stops for losses. But, those statistics don't tell the story. Twelve of those tackles came vs. the run, as he held the opposition to minus-7 yards on those plays.

In 2006, Powell was firmly entrenched as the starter at left defensive tackle. He recorded a career-high 38 tackles (16 solo) with 2 1/2 sacks, 6 1/2 stops behind the line of scrimmage and seven pressures. He also recovered a fumble and deflected a pass. With increased playing time, he also improved his dominance vs. the ground game. In 39 running plays directed at him, Powell held firmly, as the opponent was held to minus-2 yards rushing.

The defensive tackle started 12 of the team's 13 games in 2007. He posted 36 tackles (nine solo) with 2 1/2 sacks, six stops for losses and 15 quarterback pressures. He also forced a fumble.

In 51 games at Virginia Tech, Powell started 31 contests. He recorded 104 tackles (35 solo) with 5 1/2 sacks for minus 40 yards, 21 1/2 stops for losses of 75 yards and 30 quarterback pressures. He recovered two fumbles, caused three others and deflected a pair of passes. In 106 running plays directed at him, Powell's tackles resulted in the opposition in being held to minus-13 yards on the ground.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has a large frame with thick thighs and calves...Possesses solid muscle tone in his lower body, with wide hips, broad shoulders and good muscle tone in his arms...Has room on his frame to add another 15 pounds of bulk without having it affect his balance or quickness...Has a strong lower body, with very good hip width...Shows good straight-line speed and explosion off the snap and does a solid job of keeping his hands inside his frame to lock on and control the blockers... Displays the lower-leg drive to split double teams and the short-area burst to close on the pocket...When he hits the gaps with his pad level down and is very good at slipping off blocks to plug the rush lanes...When he stays low in his pads, he consistently gains leverage (4.35 20-yard shuttle), as he has the flexibility and change-of-direction agility to generate good acceleration in his short-area burst...Can wear down the blockers with his leg drive and combative nature, as he shoots the gaps with good explosion and is the type that plays until the whistle, combining strength and explosive hand punch...Can gain an advantage and shows suddenness getting to the gaps due to his savvy play and anticipation skills (see 2007 Ohio University, Clemson, Boston College and 2006 North Carolina, Southern Mississippi and Virginia games)...Disruptive force in the gaps, excelling at pushing the lead blocker back to clog the rushing lanes (held opponents to minus-13 yards rushing on 106 running plays)...Strong inside run stuffer who can make plays up and down the line due to his lateral movement...Knows how to get underneath to get a piece of the blocker's pads and is very effective stacking and controling in one-on-one situations...Won't stay blocked for long when he keeps his hands active and inside his frame...Has a very strong hand punch to shock and jolt and showed vast improvement keeping his hands inside his frame in 2006...Relies more on his strength than hand placement to defeat a block, but when he is able to generate quick hand technique, he has an effective arm crossover move as a bull rusher to push the pocket...Has a good feel for playing off blocks and reacts well to block pressure...Has that explosive short-area burst to clog the rush lanes, and when he keeps his hands active, he can grab, turn, push and control the offensive linemen...When he stays low in his pads and extends his arms, he is very effective...Has the quickness to take good angles, slant and make plays down the line...Strong inside run defender who might not show the lateral range to make plays in long pursuit, but is very efficient when asked to clog the lanes between the tackles...More of a pocket-pressure type than a pass rusher, as he plays in a system that relies on him providing containment rather than generate pressure, but once he clears the lane, he shows good urgency and the ability to take angles in attempts to close...Could surprise as a pass rusher, as he shows the quick initial step to get advantage and also get on the edge of a blocker...Has effective swim-and-rip ability and good suddenness off the ball and he is more of a power-oriented type than one who would finesse...Does a good job of keeping eye contact on the quarterback to provide containment (see 2007 Clemson, Florida State and Miami and 2006 Cincinnati, Southern Mississippi and Kent State games) and has developed efficient spin moves to counter and pull away from double-team activity...Plays with good instincts, awareness and recognition, as it is rare to see him bite on play action or misdirection...Has a good feel for blocks and when he plants his feet in the ground, even double teams struggle to contain him. Negatives: Needs to tighten the softness in his midsection...Does a good job flowing to the ball along the line, but must be more alert to keeping his pad level down...When he gets too high and narrows his base, he is susceptible to low blocks...Does not always use his hands to protect his legs from cut blocks, but he has the strength needed to neutralize (does this equally well in one-on-one situations and double teams)... When he gets too tall in his pads, he struggles to shed and stack, causing him to lose some battles in attempts to play off those blocks...Needs to be more consistent shooting his hands, as he tends to lean and give a shoulder rather than extending to play off the blocks, causing him to get washed out some vs. the more active and bigger blockers...Has the timed speed to slip through the pile and apply pressure, but his adequate change-of-direction agility sees him labor at times when he has to get in gear when working in space..Must show better hip flexibility and lateral movement in his backside pursuit before he can be given more opportunities to rush the passer. Compares To: DEWAYNE ROBERTSON-New York Jets...Both of these players rely on suddenness and brute strength to gain advantage. Powell is a dominant run stuffer who does a fine job of handling double-team blocks. He needs to improve his lateral range to be more effective when chasing down plays and must use his hands better to protect himself from low blocks. But when he locks on to a blocker, he will quickly shed. Where he excels is clogging the rush lanes, as when he keeps his pads down, lead blockers are soon to be pushed back through the hole. For a team using the "under tackle" position, Powell is the perfect fit.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
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