Analyzing Keeanu Benton: A Potential Starting Defensive Tackle in the 2023 NFL Draft
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Introduction to Keeanu Benton as a Defensive Tackle
The 2023 NFL Draft’s group of interior defensive line prospects has been described as “boom-or-bust,” but one player stands out as a safer option. Keeanu Benton, a potential starting defensive tackle, has the skills and athleticism to make an impact at the next level.
Strengths of Keeanu Benton as a Defensive Tackle
Benton is a technically sound player with a variety of moves in his arsenal, including rips, stabs, swims, and shucks. He is a solid two-gapper who can plug holes in the run game, regardless of his alignment. Benton also has above-average awareness, knowing when to stack and shed at the line of scrimmage. His powerful frame and reliable run defense make him a more than capable defender.
Challenges Benton faces as a defensive tackle
Benton’s lack of elite physical attributes may limit his upside in the NFL. He doesn’t offer much value on stunts due to a lack of top-notch agility, and he struggles to chase down ball-carriers in open space. While he has good first-step quickness and can create initial penetration, he lacks the long speed or agility needed to finish plays consistently.
Benton’s performance at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine
Benton performed well at the 2023 NFL Combine, finishing with an 8.87 Relative Athletic Score. He measured in at 6-foot-4 and 309 pounds, ran a 5.08 40-yard dash with a 1.74 10-yard split, and had above-average explosion and agility scores.
Evaluations of Benton’s college career and NFL potential
According to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, Keeanu Benton is a strong interior defensive lineman with good size and determination. However, he needs to start his plays with more explosiveness to be successful at the professional level. Sometimes, he gets stuck in long fights with blockers, but he’s good at breaking free and getting close to the play.
He doesn’t have a very wide stance or strong hold, so he needs to improve his posture to avoid getting pushed around by double teams. Overall, Benton is decent and has shown potential, but he needs to consistently make a bigger impact to become a successful starter in the NFL.
While there are questions about the 2023 NFL Draft’s interior defensive line prospects, Keeanu Benton stands out as a reliable option. He may not have the elite physical attributes of some of his peers, but he has the skills and technique to be a solid starting defensive tackle in the NFL.
Benton’s reliable run defense and powerful frame make him a more than capable two-gapper, and his athleticism and technical abilities allow him to create initial penetration. If Benton can improve his explosiveness and pad level, he could become an impactful force in the middle of any NFL defense.
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