He never played one position in college. In Seattle as a seventh-round draft pick of the Seahawks, Ty Powell lined up in different roles as well. It all changed when he was signed by Buffalo in October of 2013. Powell showed enough on special teams to hang around, and then worked to prove he could be a contributor at linebacker on defense.
Through the defensive scheme changes of the past two years he's been moved inside and out, but under head coach Rex Ryan, he'll be lining up inside in Buffalo's defensive scheme.
"Coming from six years since I started college I've played six different positions," said Powell. "Last year I played 'mike' (middle linebacker), and this year I'm playing 'mike' but it's in a new scheme. They had this scheme my first year here but now I'm inside. I really just refer back to Nigel (Bradham) because Nigel has been inside on this defense. I'm really learning off him. But I do feel like this is my natural position."
Powell is currently second on the depth chart behind Preston Brown according to head coach Rex Ryan, but the third-year player has done nothing but impress his new head coach. When asked about his linebacking corps Ryan was quick to mention was number 57.
"The first guy I'll talk about will be Powell," said Ryan. "He's been most impressive to me. Smart, picks things up quick. He was more of a special teams guy, and quite honestly if he doesn't play a snap that's fine with me. That means Preston Brown is fine, but I like Powell I think he's really jumped up."
Powell appeared on defense in six games last season, but was a regular on the special teams units where he finished fifth in tackles. It's a role he still values despite his efforts to see more time on defense this season.
"You always come in to the year hoping you can show yourself more but I love playing special teams," he said. "I want to play special teams, so if that's what I have to do I'm going to play special teams, but I want to be on the field."
Buffalo has lost some of their veteran depth at the linebacker position from last season. Keith Rivers and Brandon Spikes are no longer on the roster as the Bills have just five linebackers with NFL game experience counting Powell and veteran Manny Lawson, who in a 3-4 scheme is likely to assume strong side linebacker duties.
That would at least provide Powell with the advantage of experience over a lot of the younger linebackers who have filled up the roster at the position. That's not how Powell sees it.
"Well in a way that's kind of scary," Powell said. "They are coming in to compete and take your spot and it's a long season so anything can happen from now until the beginning of the season."
Powell refuses to take anything for granted, which is why looking back at how he's come from being a pass rushing defensive end in college to a 'mike' linebacker is not an option.
"I really don't want to look back yet," said Powell. "I feel like I still have a long way to go so I don't want to look back yet."