At one time, Ronald Powell was the No. 1 recruit in all of college football and figured to have a huge career ahead of him when he signed on to play for the Florida Gators. But after three seasons on the field and two knee surgeries off it, Powell has declared for the 2014 NFL Draft before ever really living up to the expectations of his recruitment. Will things finally click for Powell at the next level?
At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Powell has a good, long frame coming off the edge in pass rush and has good athleticism to chase down plays from the backside. But Powell was never able to become a consistent producer for the Gators at either defensive end or outside linebacker. He tallied 83 tackles, including 18.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, over the course of three seasons, highlighted by his sophomore season in 2011 when he recorded 32 tackles with nine tackles for loss and six sacks.
Powell missed the entire 2012 season after having two ACL surgeries following his promising 2011 season and came back in 2013 looking to find his game once again. He finished the year with just 26 tackles, including seven tackles for loss and four sacks, though he did record a career-best eight quarterback hurries as a junior. His history with injuries will be a concern for NFL scouts but it also helps to explain why he would leave Florida early to try and cash in. While his draft stock could use some serious help, another injury like he suffered in 2011 and he could be done with football without ever cashing an NFL check.
The challenge for Powell will be to prove to teams that his lack of production is not indicative of his talent level. The potential to be a big-time playmaker is there and due to injuries, position changes, or just plain old growing pains, Powell didn’t capitalize on that potential for the Gators. Will he find things easier in the NFL?