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2014 NFL Draft: New Orleans Saints select Ronald Powell with 169th pick

The Saints have had success with Florida pass-rushers before.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the New Orleans Saints selected Florida linebacker Ronald Powell with the 169th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, near the end of the fifth round.

An ACL injury suffered during Florida's 2012 spring game wiped out Powell's junior season after a strong finish to his sophomore campaign, and Powell's slow recovery from that injury and lack of elite explosiveness limited him as a senior, but the boy who was the No. 1 player in the high school class of 2010 according to Rivals became a man at Florida, and he'll be heading to a team that won Super Bowl XLIV with Florida product Bobby McCray on the roster, then signed Gator Alex Brown for the 2010 season.

If Powell can improve his technique as an outside linebacker or improve his pass-rushing skills, as Trevor Sikkema noted in his scouting report earlier this week...

What Powell does well is in his natural athletic ability: He’s a big, tall, strong-bodied force who can create disruption off the edge as a pass rusher. What he still needs to do – if he choses to walk the path of a linebacker – is diversify his skillset by adding the ability to drop back into coverage.

With the specialization movement in today’s NFL, Powell could simply hone in on becoming a package pass rusher and learn to dominate in that facet. This is what I think will ultimately happen with him. However, what he needs to learn how to do more effectively at the next level is shed blocks. If left unblocked, or disengaged for even a second, Powell has a good chance of making it to the quarterback. But too often I saw the offensive line properly recognize rushing gaps and stop Powell in his tracks with very limited disruption. This can’t be a trend for Powell if he intends to become a starter.

...he could very well be a productive professional.

Certainly, he seems excited about the prospect.