High School and College Career
Keeanu Benton, was a 3-star recruit from Craig High School, prior to committing to the University of Wisconsin.
During his freshman year in 2019, Benton made his Badger debut playing in 13 games and participating in a total of 245 snaps. Throughout the season, he managed to accumulate 10 tackles, 4 assists, and 8 stops. As a pass rusher, Benton impressively produced 14 total pressures, which included 8 quarterback hurries, 4 QB hits, and 2 sacks.
The following year, Benton saw action in a limited amount of games as a sophomore in 2020, participating in only 7 games and taking part in 173 snaps. During this time, he recorded a mere 6 tackles, 4 assists, and 6 stops. As a pass rusher, he chalked up 5 total pressures, 3 quarterback hurries, and 2 QB hits but failed to produce any sacks throughout the season.
As a junior in 2021, Benton solidified his position as a valuable player for the Badgers, participating in 13 games and contributing a total of 472 snaps. He recorded 17 tackles, 10 assists, and 16 stops during the season. As a pass rusher, he had 21 total pressures, including 12 quarterback hurries, 7 QB hits, and 2 sacks.
Finally, in his senior year of 2022, Benton played in 12 games and recorded a total of 427 snaps on the field. Throughout the season, he tallied 25 tackles, 7 assists, and 27 stops. As a pass rusher, he showcased his impressive skills once again, recording 28 total pressures, including 11 quarterback hurries, 11 QB hits, and 6 sacks.
Keeanu Benton Scouting Report Introduction
Keeanu Benton is considered one of the best run-stuffing nose tackles in college football and is a standout player in this year’s draft class. The Wisconsin Badgers rely heavily on Benton’s defense, and as an unmovable force on the field, he presents a significant challenge for interior offensive linemen. Benton boasts an impressive combination of size, length, and brute strength, which he uses to his advantage to quickly uproot opposing offensive linemen with ease. His size and strength also allow him to hold a strong anchor at the point of attack, and he shows flashes of the ability to reset the line of scrimmage.
Benton’s long arms are a significant asset on the field, allowing him to control his opponents’ balance during the exchange. He also punches well into the chest plate of his opponents, demonstrating a strong understanding of leverage. The Badgers even utilize Benton on twists and stunts as a looper. He also shows some closing burst once he is able to clear blockers and spot the quarterback.
One aspect of Benton’s game that he worked on this season was increasing his value on passing downs. He has added quick moves to his repertoire, which have resulted in an increased production of sacks and QB hits. Despite these improvements, Benton is not the most explosive or flexible athlete out there, so it is unrealistic to expect him to be a high-level pass rusher. His primary value lies in his ability to eat up space and blockers, which allows his teammates to make plays.
Given his background as a former three-star recruit, top-100 player at his position in the country, and two-sport athlete in both football and wrestling, it is evident that Benton possesses a multitude of skills that he can translate onto the field. His experience in wrestling has provided him with a strong foundation in leveraging and how to use his frame and length to overpower his opponents in tight quarters.
As an NFL rookie, Benton is projected to be a traditional 0/1-technique nose tackle who is responsible for plugging running lanes and handling double teams. In recent years, defenses have emphasized playing with lighter fronts to limit offensive explosive passing plays, making Benton’s skill set even more valuable. He will be responsible for keeping his linebackers and second-level defenders clean so they can scrape, flow, and locate the football. If Benton continues to work on his hand counters and learns to play under control consistently, he has the potential to become a staple defensively with three-down value at a consistent rate.
Keeanu Benton, a defensive lineman, has shown remarkable skills on the field. One of his remarkable traits is his ability to use leverage to his advantage, both inside and outside of the play. He maintains his focus and keeps his eyes on the backfield while playing on the inside, all the while moving linemen to either side with his sturdy, powerful hands.
Benton’s pure power has been a standout feature of his game, and this is primarily rooted in his good pad level. He is always on the lookout for double teams and can hold his ground, also possessing the ability to push blockers right into the pocket with his exceptional bull rush abilities.
Keeanu Benton’s strong punch and efficient use of hands to shed blocks have been essential in allowing him to make plays in the hole or outside the box. Furthermore, his incredible lower-body strength enables him to anchor himself inside.
Overall, Keeanu Benton’s skills on the field make him an invaluable asset to any team, given his ability to use leverage, his pure power, and his efficiency in shedding blocks.
He lacks quick twitch, which might be a hindrance to his ability to make impactful plays on a consistent basis. Additionally, his short and squat physique may pose a challenge in warding off blockers as a pass rusher, thereby possibly limiting his contributions in that area of the game.
Benton struggles with maintaining leverage and tends to play too high, leading to him being easily carried downfield or even being taken to the ground by opposing linemen who have a better grip. This could potentially be a concerning issue when it comes to Benton’s ability to effectively defend against certain offensive plays and maneuvers, which may require a more agile and adaptable approach on his part.
While these limitations may present certain challenges for Benton on the field, it is important to note that there are still various areas in which he can potentially excel and contribute to his team’s overall performance. With the right training and development, Benton may be able to refine his skills and overcome some of the limitations that have been identified, thus becoming a more well-rounded and formidable player in the future.
Keeanu Benton is our 78th prospect on our draft big board.