Keeanu Benton NFL Draft 2023: Scouting Report for Pittsburgh Steelers' DLApril 29, 2023
HAND: 9 3/4"
ARM: 33 7/8"
40-YARD DASH: 5.08
— Uses short and powerful steps off the ball to keep his base underneath him.
— Takes on blocks with a wide base, solid pad level and has the upper body strength to get extension against/lock out offensive linemen, he's hard to move one-on-one with his base and strength.
— When he does see/anticipate the second blocker coming on a double team, he's solid at holding his ground.
— Decent at moving his feet against reach blocks to stay in his gap. He can also close the gap with the man if he does get reached.
— Has the lower body strength and base to fight back against pressure if slanting puts him out of position as a run defender.
— Decent swim move/arm over that he can use to get off blocks as a run defender and can win with as a pass-rusher.
— Good club-by move when pass rushing, he gets his inside hand under the offensive lineman's armpit and has plenty of strength to get them off-balance with enough hip mobility to clear his lower half.
— Gets his hands up when he doesn't hit home as a pass-rusher to bat passes at the line of scrimmage.
— Slow off the ball, he doesn't generate much momentum with his get-off.
— Slightly wide hand placement as a run defender which makes it more difficult to shed blocks.
— More often than not, he struggles to anticipate the second blocker coming against combo blocks and double teams and will get kicked out of his gap.
— Not a violent block shedder overall, he struggles to disengage from blocks if he can't do it with a swim move.
— Has a habit of lunging and leaving his feet when tackling which leads to misses.
— Late hands as a pass rusher, offensive linemen typically make first significant contact which diminishes his ability to win when bull rushing.
— Lacks the quickness and overall athleticism to develop much of a pass-rush arsenal beyond power moves.
— Seems to rush without a plan and isn't a high-motor guy who's going to get coverage sacks.
— 12 GM, 35 TOT, 10 TFL, 4.5 SK, 2 PBU
— A 3-Star recruit in the 2019 class, No. 1,238 overall, No. 85 DT, per 247Sports composite rankings
— 36 career starts
— 2022 Honors: Third-Team All-Big 10 (coaches)
— 2021 Honors: Second-Team All-Big 10 (coaches), Honorable mention All-Big 10 (media)
— 2020 Honors: Academic All-Big 10
Keeanu Benton will be a good case study for how much weight to place on the Senior Bowl for NFL Draft prospects. In Mobile, he dominated as a pass-rusher with a lethal club-by move that he only showed flashes of at Wisconsin. He was also playing a lot more as a 3-technique than he did as a Badger, so his role could be expanded at the next level as well.
The latter makes his scheme fit a little difficult to pin down. On film, Benton looks more like a nose tackle or 2-technique defensive tackle, however, that might be more indicative of the system at Wisconsin than his true skill set. In other words, he might have some untapped potential and could be more versatile than what he showed in college.
Overall, Benton is a large defensive tackle who can be a space-eater as a run defender. He doesn't make a ton of plays, but he certainly can plug up gaps and there's a role for that type of player on any defense.
GRADE: 7.2 (High-level Backup/Potential Starter, 3rd Round)
OVERALL RANK: 68
POSITION RANK: DL9
PRO COMPARISON: Grover Stewart