Keeanu Benton is coming off a standout performance at this year’s Senior Bowl. The Wisconsin defensive tackle should hear his name called on day two of the 2023 NFL Draft, and this detailed scouting report explains why.
Name: Keeanu Benton
Position: Defensive Tackle
Age: 21 (July 17, 2001)
Height: 6-foot-3 1/2
Weight: 312 pounds
Arm Length: 33 3/4 inches
Wingspan: 81 3/4 inches
Hand Size: 9 7/8 inches
Keeanu Benton 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Keeanu Benton grew up in Wisconsin and attended Joseph A. Craig High School from 2015-2018, earning three stars on the recruiting scene after a successful amateur career on the gridiron. Benton also spent time with the wrestling team, qualifying for the State Championship twice, finishing his career with a 48-2 record and one runner-up finish.
Benton turned his full attention to football while looking at prospective colleges. He ultimately decided to stay in his home state by committing to the Wisconsin Badgers to continue his NFL journey.
With the Badgers, Benton started 36 games across four seasons. He earned a place on the All-Big Ten second team in 2021 and followed it up with a third-team appearance in 2022. Benton recorded ten career sacks from the nose tackle position and accumulated 57 total stops in his Wisconsin career.
Benton parlayed his superb play at Wisconsin into a Senior Bowl invite. During the week in Mobile, the Badger star showcased his versatility on the defensive line and made several jaw-dropping plays. He improved his 2023 NFL Draft stock as much as anyone at the Senior Bowl.
Now, Benton is looking to the NFL Scouting Combine and his Pro Day to continue building upon an already impressive NFL Draft profile. These two events are the only things that stand between Benton and his NFL dreams.
In this detailed scouting report, Benton’s game is put under the microscope. Is the Wisconsin nose tackle worth an early selection in the 2023 NFL Draft? Or will he get pushed down the board due to positional value?
•Leverage King – The most impressive area of Benton’s game is his consistent ability to create leverage. He regularly shows a low pad level off the snap and uses this to physically dominate his assignment. At the Senior Bowl, Benton exhibited this trait on every snap. Natural leverage will bode well vs. interior linemen in the NFL.
•Strength – Benton’s ability to get low is special, but so is his natural strength. He displays powerful hands when shedding blocks and working his way into the backfield. When Benton wraps a player up, that is the end of the play; there is no escaping once he gets his hands on you.
•Quick First Step – Following up on leverage and strength, Benton often wins by beating his assignment off the snap. He uses this burst to create headaches for the opposing line. Benton can stuff multiple gaps from the interior, which is a trait coveted by NFL coaches.
•Versatility – Although Benton primarily lined up at nose tackle in college, he flexed versatility in Mobile. I project the Badger defender as a player who lines up anywhere from 0- to 3-tech at a high level. This versatility gives Benton a chance to be an impactful three-down player who rarely comes off the field.
•Experience – Another feather in Benton’s cap is his on-field experience. He played from the minute he arrived on campus, logging 36 starts over four years. NFL teams have plenty of impressive tape to work with on Benton.
•Tape is Mostly at Nose Tackle – While it is easy to see how Benton could hold up elsewhere on the defensive line, he has only proven a viable starter at nose tackle in college. A pure nose tackle is vital to certain schemes but can be pushed down the draft board because most teams look for versatility.
•Pass Rush Moves – I was surprised to see a more expanded pass rush arsenal from Benton at the Senior Bowl. He consistently won with his hands and mixed in a swim move a few times that spawned some ‘oohs and awes’. Adding more to the toolbox would go a long way to projecting Benton as an every-down player because his tape left room for improvement here.
•Good, Not Great Athleticism – Benton moves well enough to be a top-tier nose tackle in the NFL, but questions about his overall athleticism could limit him in the league. His first step is impressive, and the lateral agility is unprecedented at his size, but Benton has a difficult time making a play on the ball after it gets past the line of scrimmage.
2023 NFL Draft Grade
•Early Day Two (#3 DT on my Big Board)
Determining the 2023 NFL Draft stock of Keeanu Benton involves a lot of projecting. If he is graded strictly as a nose tackle, he will come off the board in round three. If teams view him as a player who can stay on the field for a majority of the defensive snaps, expect Benton to go in the first two rounds. For my money, I would take him anywhere in round two and play him at multiple spots on the line.
Games Evaluated: 10