The Denver Broncos needed to bolster their run-blocking skills up front to aid with what kind of offense Sean Payton was, and that meant going after one of the biggest free agents on the market.
Did Ben Powers live up to expectations?
During his stint in Baltimore, Ben Powers gained a reputation for being a dominant run blocker who adds a heightened sense of physicality up front. I was expecting him to bring that same sort of attitude to the Broncos. I thought he was a great guard to bring in to put opposite of Quinn Meinerz to help solidify the interior offensive line.
And while he wasn’t necessarily known for it, his ability in the passing game was solid, and was dependable when called upon.
Regular season reaction
Powers ended up being a great asset in the run game, especially compared to Dalton Risner, who Powers was replacing (no intention of Risner disrespect; I thought he was pretty good). Powers was fundamentally sound and rarely got out-muscled. He has a great base underneath him and does a good job operating with his hips underneath him, which allows him to be so strong up front. He was good at working double teams alongside Bolles and Cushenberry and was able to cleanly pick up linebackers or overtake the first-level blocks.
His weak spot would be his pass blocking, but that doesn’t mean he did a bad job. He was clean throughout most of the season, only giving up four sacks over 17 games. He was almost always providing Wilson with a good pocket. But, to my surprise, especially with what I just said about his run blocking, I think his biggest weakness was blocking the bull rush. Maybe it was just recency bias when looking back at the year, but defenders were able to collapse the pocket with a simple bull rush when going up against Powers. He’s able to work well when he has momentum on his side, but when he was forced to catch defenders, he couldn’t get his feet under him.
The weird thing about this point though is that Powers was pretty good against the bull rush earlier in the season, but it seemed like late in the year, it was that move that beat Powers more than speed moves did.
But, remember, there were still plenty more good blocks in the passing game than there were bad. There are plenty of examples of him being a smart blocker and working through his progression when encountering a blitz. An example of this came against the Chiefs when they brought the house.
With a head-up rusher on Cushenberry, Ben Powers realizes there are two rushers on top of him, one rushing the A gap and the other rushing the B gap, and Powers correctly chooses to take the A gap rusher. The rule of thumb as a lineman is to take the innermost man, and he made the right read here. And it is a lot harder to make this sort of split-second decision than it may look.
Out of the two free-agent offensive linemen that the team brought in before the 2023 season, Powers is the better one; at least as of now. I like his role and how he fits into the interior part of the line. And if the Broncos do decide to move on from Cushenberry, Powers is an important veteran to have to help whatever center would take over. Whether it be a rookie or someone like Alex Forsyth.
Pass blocking: C+
Run blocking: B
Overall grade: B-
Ben Powers season grade
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