More often than not over the course of an NFL draft, a team will pick a player that most of its fan base has never heard of.
For the Arizona Cardinals, there were two such players in this year’s draft: third-round speedster John Brown out of Pittsburg State and Murray State’s Walt Powell — the team’s final selection of 2014.
While many may be scratching their head at the selection, Powell truly projects as another “Bruce Arians-type” receiver. He isn’t a speed guy — like a lot of the coach’s preferred targets — but he offers a lot in other areas.
Walt Powell, WR Murray State
5-foot-11, 189 pounds
· Smooth route runner and athlete.
· Good understanding of working underneath routes.
· Excels running after the catch.
· Special teams ace in the return game.
· Solid hands and a reliable receiver.
· Is not an elite speed athlete.
· More quick than fast, with good start and stop ability, but isn’t a deep threat.
· Has to get stronger getting off press coverage.
· Looks like a slot only guy in the NFL.
Powell will have to make his money as an undersized slot receiver, being a reliable target for Carson Palmer. But most importantly, he’ll have to excel in the return game.
While the Cardinals already have Ted Ginn Jr, it is conceivable that Powell could offer the Cardinals something more as a return guy than Ginn outside of the 2014 season, and that could be the reason for this selection.
It will be interesting to see if Powell can make the roster and what type of impact he can have at the NFL level, as he does have some slot ability while doubling as a dangerous return man.
Best case scenario: Powell could become a return specialist, special teams ace and fifth receiver.