2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Michigan State LB Ben VanSumeren

From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling Michigan State LB Ben VanSumeren.

#13 Ben VanSumeren/LB Michigan State – 6020, 231

Senior Bowl/Combine


Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Ben VanSumeren 6020, 231 9 1/4 31 76 1/2
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
4.45 1.52 4.46 7.10
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
10’11″ 42.5 29


— Well-built frame, looks like an NFL linebacker
— Elite testing numbers
— Flashes burst and closing speed when he finds the ball, evident on blitzes and playing the ball on the perimeter, shows athleticism when he opens up and runs
— Able to set the edge and tackle running backs on outside runs
— Shows ability to get depth in coverage and carry #3 vertical
— Still new to the position and game has room for growth
— Experience playing to the field side and in space
— Active/vocal pre-snap communicator
— Regarded as a hard worker and disciplined player and person

The Bad

— Very raw to the position and it shows on tape
— Poor processor and struggles to read keys and what’s in front of him
— Takes too long to take steps downhill and fill, doesn’t attack until he clearly sees the runner/ball and is late to plays
— Despite size, not a powerful tackler and aims too high and gets run through, allowing yards after contact
— Clunky mover who doesn’t play to timed speed and athleticism, late to open his hips and his play is overall hesitant
— Prone to getting stuck on blocks and needs to show better hand usage
— Needs to use hands better as a blitzer, get stuck on blocks because he doesn’t work to get off them, just looks to blow up the back
— Limited number of impact and splash plays
— Age combined with rawness is a concern


— 39 career college games, 13 career starts
— Turns 24 in May
— Began career as FB/RB before switching to LB in 2020
— Career: 101 tackles (4 TFL) 2 sacks, 2 PDs 0 INTs, nine carries for 20 yards and 1 TD
— 2022: 81 tackles (3 TFL) 2 sacks
— Played for Michigan from 2018-2020, transferred to Michigan State for 2021 season and became starter in 2022
— Three-star recruit from Essexville, Michigan, chose UM over Iowa, Cincinnati, and a slew of Ivy League schools (Columbia, Harvard, Yale) among others, first player from his high school to play for Michigan
— RB/WR/QB and defender in high school, played receiver his senior year (after switching from QB after his first two games) and caught 85 passes for over 1200 yards and 13 TDs
— Younger brother is a defensive lineman for Michigan State
— Entered transfer portal in March of 2022 but withdrew the following month and remained a Spartan
— Had a verbal commitment to Iowa before switching and signing with Michigan
— Values ball security so much that after once fumbling in seventh grade, he carried a football almost everywhere he went, including holding it while he slept and buckling it in the passenger seat of his car when he drove to school
— Talented high school baseball player who also played basketball

Tape Breakdown

Ben VanSumeren turned heads and grabbed NFL Draft attention with a “wow” Pro Day workout, posting elite-level 40 times and jumps. A great athlete out of high school, he played a ton of different positions, everything from quarterback to running back to linebacker to wide receiver. He committed to Michigan, scoring once in his Wolverines’ career against Middle Tennessee State, before moving to linebacker and eventually transferring to Michigan State.

On tape, you see moments of that athleticism. When he can run in a line, when he can find the football, he flashes that open-field speed. You see that most often as a blitzer and when defending perimeter runs. Some examples. He is #13 in all these clips (I have tried to use programs to highlight him on-screen but have run into troubles. Apologies while I figure something else out).

VanSumeren has some basic coverage traits and didn’t look as raw there as I thought, though he’s still working on getting proper depth and not getting fooled by fakes. Here’s a funny moment, him literally jumping in his hook zone on this pump fake. Toward the bottom here, you see him struggle to finish the play on the tackle.

While his workout numbers make you want to turn on the tape, you can see why this guy wasn’t getting much buzz before his Pro Day. He’s health-code violation raw and a terribly slow processor. Watch how slow he is to react to the guard pulling here, not getting downhill and filling. He’s the LILB here to the field side of the field.

And some other examples of how slow he is to react.

Or here, again, slow to read and react. You see him strafe so long here. I understand he’s playing inside/out, but it saps him of his speed to defend the edge. He simply doesn’t play as fast as his timed numbers indicate because he’s so hesitant amidst what’s going on around him. In the second clip, check how late he is to close here, very passive to the runner and catching the back, who carries him for additional yards.


VanSumeren has size and physical traits that are attractive to try to build upon. But he feels like an NBA draft pick from some European country. The classic “he’s a year away from being a year away” label. The NFL doesn’t afford that kind of time or patience. VanSumeren’s traits do project better on special teams while he hones his craft. He’s a Year One practice squad type who will have to quickly refine his game by Year Two or else he’ll fall out of the league.

He reminds me of former third-round pick Chazz Surratt, who was overdrafted and quickly fell out of favor in Minnesota. He was also an offensive star in high school — he played QB before switching to LB — who was a good athlete but not a good linebacker.

Projection: Priority Undrafted Free Agent

Depot Draft Grade: 5.7 – Priority Free Agent (Undrafted)

Games Watched: vs Minnesota (2022), at Washington (2022), vs Western Michigan (2022)

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