After the Broncos signed guard Ben Powers, learn more about him and his journey to Denver with these five facts:
1. He was a state finalist wrestler in high school
While football was his main sport, Powers also decided to join the wrestling team as a junior.
The Athletic’s Jason Kersey chronicled this foray into wrestling — and how Powers managed to improve rapidly in a sport he had never competed in before. In fact, only three or so practices into trying it, he won his first match.
"[He] learned quick and produced fast," one of Powers' teammates told Kersey. "He became like a Swiss Army Knife. He had a bunch of different moves that he could break out on you instead of just doing the average big-man thing."
In his first season, Powers went 17-17 and qualified for the state tournament, and he then followed it up with a 34-3 season and made it to the state finals in his varsity heavyweight class.
Through this, he may have also learned new ways to develop as a lineman.
"Wrestling improved Powers' leverage and made him better at hand-to-hand combat," Kersey wrote. "It helped him better understand things like momentum and how it affects an opponent's body. It made him tougher and enhanced that "crush-their-dreams" mentality that Powers uses on every single snap."
2. He landed at a D-I powerhouse after starting at junior college
In high school, Powers was a talented lineman, but major programs did not recruit him heavily or offer him any scholarships. The best he got was from Division II's Pittsburg State.
"I think Kansas is under the radar in a lot of people's recruiting books," Powers later said. "When they say, 'We're going to go around the country, where do we go?' it's Texas, Florida, California, Louisiana. … It's hard for guys in Kansas. At the time, K-State with [head coach] Bill Snyder was doing their recommended walk-on program to in-state guys. And so I didn't even get asked to recommend walk-on there. Zero offers out of high school."
But with his sights set on going to the NFL, he chose to start out at a junior college, hoping to then transfer to a bigger school. At Butler Community College, Powers continued to add to his game and his frame.
"I think it just put me on the radar," Powers said. "I think going to junior college put me on a bigger radar than playing high school ball in Kansas."
"I bet on myself," Powers said. "I went to junior college. I was there for four months before I got an offer from Oklahoma."
Follow new Broncos guard Ben Powers from his college days at Oklahoma to starting his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens.
3. He blocked for two Heisman Trophy winners at Oklahoma
With the Sooners, Powers quickly went from a largely unheralded transfer prospect to a promising player. Just four games into his time there, he became a starter.
"My whole career, I've been getting my opportunity through the mud," Powers said. "Jonathan Alvarez gets hurt at TCU Week 3 or 4 of the year and I go in and I finish it out. …
"I'm an underdog, and I love it. I love coming [in] when no one's expecting it and grabbing it and succeeding. It's something I take pride in."
After finding his footing as a starter, Oklahoma went on a remarkable run in his final two seasons. In 2017 and 2018, Powers was part of offensive lines that dominated in the trenches and protected Heisman Trophy winners Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
"It was unbelievable," Powers said. "… You're supposed to score points and a lot of points, and you need to. It's fun to be good, and it was fun to be a part of that offense."
With Powers, the Sooners ranked in the country's top 15 in yards per rushing attempt, including the best overall mark in 2018 in that category.
In his final season, Powers was a consensus All-American selection at guard and was a first-team All-Big 12 pick. Oklahoma's offensive line also won the Joe Moore Award that year as the best O-line in the country. At an individual level, Powers was exceptional and did not give up a single sack.
4. His 2019 draft selection was announced by superfan Mo Gaba
Though Powers' name was not called early enough to hear it voiced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the announcement was made by someone very special: Mo Gaba.
Gaba, who died in 2020 after battling cancer, was one of the Ravens' most-famous superfans. Blind since a young age, Gaba read the Ravens' draft card for the 123rd-overall pick, which was written in braille.
"Unbelievable," Powers recalled on a Ravens podcast. "… The way he said my name, it made me feel like I was a first-overall quarterback off the board. That's how he made me feel. It was so special, and it was something I'll never forget."
Later, once he'd begun his career in Baltimore, he had the chance to meet Gaba, and the two formed a natural bond.
"He knew exactly who I was — he knew my voice," Powers said. "It was very special for me. He gave me the draft card in braille. I have that framed up back home. Very cool. …
"Having that special connection, to be able to [have] him announce me and for him to be able to do that, I feel like that naturally brought us [together], to have that shared special memory. I feel like that is something we could share forever."
5. He was PFF's second-highest-rated guard in pass protection in 2022
While it took some time for Powers to find his starting role in Baltimore, he really settled in with the 2022 season.
Among guards, Powers was the second-best player in pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus. He had a 86.7 rating, behind Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro Joe Thuney. PFF's stats also say that Powers allowed just one sack, one quarterback hit and 11 hurries in 663 pass-blocking snaps.
The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker picked Powers as the Ravens' most-improved player in his season superlatives column.
"He played every offensive snap in the opener, every offensive snap in the season-ending playoff loss and every offensive snap in between," Walker wrote. "His pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus was easily the best of his career and the second best in the league at his position."
If that's not enough of an endorsement, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta essentially agreed.
"Ben has probably improved as much as anybody on our team," DeCosta said in January.