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PFF Grades Broncos' Signing of OG Ben Powers
By Nick Kendell,
What does the analytics giant think of the Denver Broncos' first free-agent signing of 2023?
The Denver Broncos are making moves. After years of underwhelming offensive line play, under the ownership of the Walton-Penner group and the direction of new head coach Sean Payton, Denver appears to be heavily emphasizing heavier personnel with the big uglies on the offensive line.
The Broncos' first big signing of 2023 was guard Ben Powers, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens , to a four-year, $52 million contract . Likely replacing former left guard Dalton Risner in the unit, the Broncos paid top dollar to one of the best guards on the market.
PFF graded the Powers signing with a B+ for fit/need and a B- for value. Given that it projected him to sign a four-year deal for just $40 million and $28.5 million guaranteed, Denver apparently valued Powers more than PFF.
Powers is coming off a career year in which he stood out as one of the best pass-blocking offensive linemen in the league. His 86.5 pass-blocking grade ranked second to only Joe Thuney of the Kansas City Chiefs among all guards, and he allowed just 12 total pressures from 597 pass-blocking snaps over the season.
He’s not a dominant run-blocker — his career-best run-blocking grade (63.6) came back in 2021 — but his improvement as a pass-blocker is what saw him being hyped heading into free agency.
Denver replaces free agent Dalton Risner with a big signing at the left guard position, and between left tackle Garret Bolles and Powers, the left side of their line is now earning $30 million per year.
From a cap perspective, Powers looks like an absolutely massive signing coming in at around $13 million per year. However, when considering Denver just created $11 million in cap space on Sunday by releasing Graham Glasgow , the additional $2 million for improved play, health, and youth projects as a savvy investment and usage of assets.
How Powers will translate from the unique Ravens offense with Lamar Jackson at quarterback to what is more likely to be a classic Payton offense with Russell Wilson will be worth monitoring. The Broncos will hope Powers’ play over 2022 will be his norm going forward as opposed to the up-and-down play he showed in the three years prior.
While not an exceptional athlete coming out of Oklahoma, Powers’ improvement in the technical areas of the game over his time in Baltimore makes it a high-floor signing for Denver.
Powers will likely need Garett Bolles to return to form on top of improved play at center in 2023 for the solid-not-great run blocking to be more palatable, but the pass-protecting prowess speaks for itself and should make whoever is under center in Denver for the foreseeable future feel that much more secure in their dropbacks.
It will be interesting to track Powers' play in the run game, given the struggles of Denver’s interior and his predecessor at left guard's problems in generating movement at the point-of-attack. Regardless, the Broncos identified Powers as a highly valued asset and paid him a large contract to ensure he came to Denver.
If Powers turns out to be a B-grade signing, the Broncos will have improved their unit this offseason on the interior.