2021 NFL Draft: Cornell Powell Player Profile

Cornell Powell NFL Draft Overview

Position: Wide Receiver
Height: 6’-0”
Weight: 204 pounds
School: Clemson

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Cornell Powell 2021 NFL Draft Profile

Any draft prospect entering the league out of Clemson is worth an extra look from talent evaluators. Cornell Powell fits the bill as a wide receiver who enjoyed a productive final year with the Tigers. Powell struggled for playing time the majority of his career in college. Six receivers have been drafted in the time Powell has attended Clemson. Amari Rodgers and Justyn Ross are also top receivers, with Rodgers graded as third-to-fourth-round talent in this pool. However, Powell finally burst onto the scene this past season. 

Powell attended JH Rose High School in Greenville, North Carolina. As a senior, he had 65 receptions for 1,557 yards and 38 total touchdowns. Powell was offered by Ole Miss, Ohio State, and Wake Forest. However, he committed to Clemson University in 2016. Powell was a backup receiver for the majority of his time in college. In his first three seasons, he only caught 25 receptions for 207 receiving yards and one touchdown. He was granted a redshirt year in 2018 after only playing in four games. 

However, Powell finally became a starter as a redshirt senior in 2020. In 12 games, Powell caught 53 receptions for 882 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. All tallied more than Powell earned throughout his four previous playing seasons put together. He became a favored target for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The two were together on campus since 2018, which some scouts believe led to the great chemistry on the field in 2020. 

Strengths

  • Great body control – Fights for contested catches down the field;
  • Crafty route separator – uses his body and hands like a veteran;
  • Strong receiver – Particularly strong hands – understands his attributes and plays to his strengths; 
  • Football IQ – works back to the football on scramble drills, makes himself an available target;
  • Love the hustle – Blocks downfield, does the dirty work, runs hard every route. 

Weaknesses

  • Only one year of solid production – very late breakout;
  • Plays one speed – Doesn’t have a second gear downfield;
  • Will turn age 24 as a rookie;
  • Lacks separation burst at the key point of the route – Has to rely on craftiness;
  • Developed a relationship and chemistry with the best quarterback in the country – Can he be productive at the pro level?
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NFL Comparison: Allen Hurns

Hurns burst onto the scene as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. He racked up his only career 1,000 yard receiving year in 2015. Hurns was unheralded coming out of Miami despite enjoying a productive college career. He lacks the top-end speed to run away from defensive backs but is crafty in creating route separation and possesses strong hands to make contested catches. 

Teams With Need at Position: Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Tennessee Titans

Projection: Fourth/Fifth Round

Bottom Line on Cornell Powell

The sole one year of production and how long it took for Powell to finally breakout at Clemson are obvious detractors for scouts. There is a limit to his draft stock. He will be 24 years old as a rookie in the league and isn’t the obvious choice for teams looking to upgrade their wide receiver group in the draft. However, a team who is high on Powell will like the experience he brings and see him as a mature prospect who can contribute from Day 1 in the league. 

While there are limitations to his game, Powell figured out how he can succeed on the football field last season. He doesn’t have the top-end speed of an early-round prospect. He wins with strong hands, crafty route running, physicality and toughness. Particularly at the catch point. Powell has developed exceptional body control and earned the trust of Lawrence at Clemson. He worked on his craft and improved. The arrow is pointing up. 

Powell is worth a mid-to-late round pick for a team looking to add depth to their receiver room. He’s not a clear number one as a receiver but has the traits to be a productive number two or three. If he can earn the trust of a starting quarterback and coaching staff in camp, he has the maturity to be productive as a rookie.

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