A year ago, many were calling for Bilal Powell useless after an unimpressive rookie year. He got few touches and did absolutely nothing when he got those touches. A year later he looks a little bit better, but he is still an extremely limited player. He certainly does not look like the steal the Jets led people to believe they were getting in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Powell finished 2012 with 437 yards on 110 carries, an average of 4.0 to go with 4 touchdowns. He also caught 17 passes for 140 yards. These are adequate numbers for a backup running back. Pro Football Focus shows that Powell does not bring a whole lot to the table himself. Only Beanie Wells grinded out less yards after contact per carry, and Powell only caused 16 missed tackles on 127 touches. That is an extremely low rate.
Powell is clearly a guy who takes what is there and very little else. That at the very least more than what Shonn Greene provides. Greene frequently does not even take what is there. Powell reads his blocks well. He seems to have decent acceleration and changes direction adequately. He also is a pretty good pass blocker and is a decent receiver. He has the skills to contribute something in the new offense.
There really is not anything Bilal does great, but he has few enough holes that you can live with him as a second back if you have to. Given how cheap Powell is and the other holes on the roster, the Jets probably have to. I think Powell should and will stay as part of a rotation.