NFL Draft Q&A: DT Carlton Powell

Among the many teams that have shown interest in defensive tackle Carlton Powell are the Colts, Buccaneers, Panthers, 49ers, Vikings, Dolphins Broncos, Saints, Titans, Ravens, Chargers and Jaguars. Learn more about this space-eating DT in this exclusive interview with's Ed Thompson.

Thompson: Let's talk about what this process has been like for you.  How are you holding up after going through the craziness of the Combine and Pro Day?

Powell: I'm doing just great.  It was a little hectic at first with the Combine, but it was a little more relaxed at Pro Day.  After the Pro Day I took a couple days off and now I'm about to go home to spend time with my family before the draft.

Thompson: That's terrific.  It sounds like some well-earned relaxation time.  Do you have a big family?  Where is home?

Powell: Pretty big family.  They're from Chesapeake, Virginia.  My mom and dad have been together my whole life.  I have two older sisters and two younger brothers.  I'm right in the middle.

Thompson: What is it about the sport of football that has kept you pushing for excellence and this NFL dream?

Powell: I'm just a born competitor.  I love to compete and try my hand against the best people in the field.  I think if it were any other sport I would be just as adamant about it.  I just like to go out there and get better every day.

Thompson: Why Virginia Tech?  When you look back on your career, do you think it ended up being a great fit for your skill set?

Powell: Definitely.  I always wanted to play for the number one defense in the country.  I really didn't want to move too far from the house, because my parents could come to a lot of the games.  I just love the way Coach Foster ran the defense.  It was the right decision for me and a great five years for me.  It was just amazing.  It could not have gone better.

Thompson: Virginia Tech really counts on the defensive tackles to take on multiple blockers and eat up as much space as possible.  At times that doesn't really put you in a glory situation from a statistics standpoint.  Were you ever concerned about that from the perspective of how that might impact your draft ranking if you didn't have the gaudy stats?

Powell: It was a small concern.  But if you really watch film, you can see my technique and fundamentals are up to par with any defensive tackle anywhere.  I can make just as many plays.  You have to play within your role so that the whole defense succeeds.

Thompson: What makes you so effective at taking up all that space?

Powell: Quickness off the ball, power and strength, and then make them double-team because if I get singled then I'll be in the backfield making the tackle.

Thompson: I saw one stat that I thought was particularly impressive.  Last year you were the only active Division I player who had held all of his rushing attempts against him to a grand total of negative yardage.

Powell: Yeah, I was aware of that.  The ball doesn't get past me very often.

Thompson: Talk a little bit about what you do to get so many plays made behind the line, because I know you're a real disruptor out there.

Doug Benc/Getty Images

Powell: Just reading the stance of the offensive lineman and knowing what it means when they change things.  That goes back to being in the film room, breaking down film.  With the offense you do down and distance.  It's more of an intellectual game than people think.  If you can anticipate and react in football it makes it a whole lot easier.

Thompson: I was looking through the teams that have been in contact with you and one of them is Tampa Bay.  I know you have the talent and stretch in your athletic ability to play in any defense, but it jumped out at me that with the way you play the position you'd be a great under tackle in the Tampa 2 or Cover 2.  Were you surprised at all to see that interest from Tampa Bay and would you expect to see more teams that run that type of defense, like Buffalo or Indianapolis, to be stepping up?

Powell: A lot of teams who run that scheme have shown some interest, but I can fit in pretty much anywhere.  I'm a smart player who learns quickly.  I'm quick on my feet and I'm good on the line.  I feel like I can fit into any scheme.

Thompson: Talk about the kind of guy that you would be in a locker room.  If you had to pick a couple words to describe what kind of person you are in the locker room, what would they be?

Powell: I'm not really a talker. I'm kind of more meek and lead by example.  Quiet.  I definitely let my actions speak more than my words.

Thompson: What makes you effective off the block trying to get to a ball carrier?

Powell: Practicing technique and fundamentals and making sure you have inside leverage on the man.  That way you can control the blocker.  You can step and rip or swipe and wipe away, depending on where the ball carrier is going.  But it's usually leverage that wins the battle.

Thompson: Who did you meet with for your first formal interview at the Combine, and what was that like?

Powell: My first one was with San Francisco and I was really nerve-wracked because I didn't know what to expect.  I got down there really early because I didn't want to be late so we started a little early.  I sat down and talked down to the coaches.  I really think I got across to them my character, my personality, and what type of person I am.  They said it went great and I had a good time in there.  Everything else was smooth from then on.

Thompson: Who were some of the other teams you can remember talking to in formal interviews?

Powell: North Carolina, Indianapolis, Miami, and Minnesota.

Thompson: After your Pro Day did you have some teams come up and talk to you and ask you some more questions?

Powell: I did sit down and have a dinner before Pro Day with the D-line coach from Miami.  And that went well.  Then he contacted me afterwards and told me how I did a great job at the Pro Day.

Thompson: Is there anything you want to say to the Virginia Tech fans that read this article?

Powell: I want to thank them all for their support throughout the years.  I'm going to the NFL to make everybody proud.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at You can contact him by email through this link.

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