The Bills’ Sleeper



Can Ty Powell Start At Inside Linebacker?

The Bills were one of the most injured teams in 2015. They had players injured at just about every level of the defense. One of those players was Ty Powell. The third year linebacker was being groomed as a key reserve linebacker.

Powell was making plays throughout spring camp, unofficially recording 4 interceptions and impressing new Head Coach Rex Ryan. That is until he tore his ACL and was placed on IR for the season.


Powell was making the conversion from outside linebacker to inside linebacker in Rex Ryan’s hybrid defense. He has only appeared in 61 regular season snaps, 46 of which were in 2014.

To start 2015, Powell played 26 snaps in the first pre-season game against Carolina. If you go back and watch some of the film on him, you will see that he has skills that are quite critical in Rex’ defense.

Read, diagnose and finish

On the following play Powell has the RB in man coverage. He feels the screen play developing, he gets to the back before the lineman can set up and under the peel back block by the WR.

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Pass rushing ability

An area that Bills’ linebackers struggled with in 2015 was blitzing. In his senior year at Harding University, Powell played defensive end and he recorded 8.5 sacks. Rushing the quarterback is something that he is used to doing.

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Under Jim Schwartz, Ty only played in 46 regular season snaps. He was primarily brought in on third downs when the Bills wanted to mix up their defensive looks. On this play versus the Jets in 2014, Powell jammed the TE and then blitzed Geno Smith.

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Here is another odd defensive look by Schwartz. The pressure forces an incomplete pass.

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Powell is very athletic and Schwartz took advantage of that. In fact Powell had one of the best vertical leaps at the 2013 combine, jumping 37″ inches.

On this play he is spying Michael Vick. He reads the QB’s eyes and ends up deflecting the pass.

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In the same game, he aligns on the edge but then drops to the middle zone. Vick pulls the pass down and is chased wide by Powell. Powell shows off his 4.6 speed which made Vick run to the sideline.

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Powell shows his range off on the next play. He shows blitz, drops to the middle zone, reads the QBs eyes and makes the tackle outside the numbers. How can you not be excited about this guy?

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Powell again shows his range by chasing down the Bears TE.

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Against the Pats he quickly gets to his zone, recognizes the lineman setting up the screen. Powell gets downhill to make the tackle on Vereen before the back can get going.

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Powell remains in his gap as Forte cuts it back. Powell shows off his quick twitch ability quickly getting to Forte before he breaks the long run. Powell has really good change of direction and quick twitch to his game. In fact, he had one of the best three cone drill times at 6.98 seconds when he entered the draft.

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There is a lot of talk that the Bills need to draft a linebacker in the upcoming draft. They definitely will need to address the position, but I really do think that if Powell is healthy he could really make a difference. He has shown flashes of skills that linebackers need in this defense. Backers need to be able to rush the passer on those fire zone blitzes, find their landmarks in zone coverages, and most of all the ability to diagnose plays. Although he hasn’t seen the field much, I think 2016 could be s breakout season.




Bonus footage, some of his pro day video: