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Chiefs rookie Cornell Powell: ‘I consider myself a playmaker’

Could Powell be the receiver to emerge and replace Sammy Watkins?

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs have welcomed a new No. 14 during rookie minicamp this weekend: wide receiver Cornell Powell. The number is fitting, as he was purposely drafted to replace the old No. 14 — Sammy Watkins, who signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs’ AFC rival Baltimore Ravens this offseason.

Powell spoke to the media Saturday about his emotions in putting on a Chiefs jersey for the first time — which he did on Friday.

“It was like unreal, kind of like a movie-type,” said Powell. “I’ve been wishing on this moment for my whole life, and for it actually [to be] happening and come true — it’s just crazy. You really can’t describe it but, at the end of the day, when the whistle blew, it was only football. The whole day just stuck out to me. I really feel like just being here is a blessing. I’m ready to work.”

Like Watkins, Powell played college football at Clemson University. However, their success at that level varied. Watkins’ college career came with two seasons of more than 1,200 yards, which made him a fourth-overall pick.

Powell did not break out until his fifth and final year, when he recorded 53 catches for 882 yards and seven touchdowns. That fact may have actually benefitted the Chiefs, who were able to nab him in the fifth round.

Chiefs director of college scouting Ryne Nutt stated on draft weekend the team is confident that Powell, at a listed 6 feet and 205 pounds, can pick up where Watkins left off — and Powell certainly has the right mentality.

“I consider myself a playmaker,” he said. “I can go down the field and make plays. I can run routes, and I can give my team a spark, so I’m just here to have fun, make plays and contribute to winning championships.”

Cornell is used to team success, as he played for Clemson as a role player in three seasons in which they were college football finalists in 2016, 2018 and 2019 (winning titles in 2016 and 2018) — and he had eight catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State in this year’s Sugar Bowl loss.

“I come from a winning program,” he noted, “and this is a winning program as well, so I feel like that transition is going to be smooth. I know what to expect. They expect championships, and that’s where I’m coming from being at Clemson and then being coached by coach (Dabo) Swinney — he’s a God-fearing man, someone who believes in family atmosphere and all about culture. Being here for these past couple days, I feel the same vibe — it’s all about culture, it’s all about the little things. Shirt tucked in and doing all the little things, so it’s going to be great.”

Powell also has the luxury of going from playing with college football’s best quarterback to the NFL’s best quarterback.

“Going from Trevor (Lawrence) to Patrick Mahomes, it’s just a blessing,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better. I fell into the perfect situation, so I just got to make the most of every opportunity that I get.”

Powell will compete with Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle for snaps at receiver during the offseason program and training camp. Someone needs to step up and replace the old No. 14.

Why not the new one?