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NFL Draft Profile: Keeanu Benton

School: Wisconsin

Position: DT

Year: Senior

The Good: Keeanu Benton certainly looks the part of an NFL defensive tackle at 6’4”, 310lbs, and he tested quite well at the Combine in the most relevant drills for DTs (above 80th percentile in both the broad jump and 3-cone). That burst shows on tape; Benton has a very good get-off, particularly for a dude who regularly aligned at nose tackle. He has strong hands, and he’s able to get downhill to cut off lanes on stretch runs. As a pass rusher, Benton is a very slippery gap shooter. The highest end of Benton’s plays look like they belong on a Quinnen Williams highlight reel.

The Bad: Benton’s size almost works against his play style. As a pass rusher who wins by quickly getting under the inside shoulders of linemen, he loses the pad level battle quite a bit and seldom wins with power. Benton really needs to diversify his pass rush arsenal and have more intention with his hands, because the physical advantages that he had in the Big 10 won’t exist to nearly the same degree in the NFL. And I say all of that to then say that Benton is better as a pass rusher than a run stopper. His contact balance isn’t strong and he can’t really take on double teams; he’s not playing over the center in the NFL like he did at Wisconsin. Benton also should hold his ground better for a heavier DT, and he’s generally slow to get off blocks.

The Bottom Line: Based on his accolades, athletic profile, and highlights, I expected to come out of Benton’s evaluation way higher on him than I actually am. I get why a team will likely pick him in the Top 50; his best plays truly have the look of an elite player and he’s a playmaker at a position where many of his peers just put their helmets down and chug into double teams. I’d be excited to have him on my team at 3-tech as like the second or third dude on the defensive line, and he could be one of the few trench players with a respectable sack count. I just don’t think he’s all that versatile and I worry about him vs the run – his run defense tape against Ohio State was legitimately concerning. For Benton’s success, I hope that concern of mine is misplaced…because DTs weak against the run don’t see the field much in the NFL!

Grade: Third Round

Pro Comp: BJ Hill

Games Watched:

  • Clemson 2021
  • Wake 2021
  • West Virginia 2022
  • Tennessee 2022
  • UNC 2022

Plays That Matter [LINK]

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