Keeanu Benton Will Begin Steelers Career At Nose Tackle, DC Teryl Austin Says

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a trench-heavy focus through their first three picks of the 2023 NFL Draft. After selecting Georgia OT Broderick Jones at 14 overall, the team added to the defensive line of the football by taking Wisconsin DL Keeanu Benton at 49 midway through the second round.

Speaking to reporters following the pick, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin confirmed that Benton will begin his career as a nose tackle but has the versatility to play defensive end, too. He confirmed the news  in his post-pick press conference as carried by the Steelers’ YouTube channel.


“We’ll start him probably inside as a nose,” Austin said via the team’s YouTube channel, “and see what he can do as a three or a 4i for us. He’s a big body, but he’s not one of those guys, he’s not a two-down guy. He’ll have a chance to be a guy that can move out and play on third down and do some things in terms of penetrating and rushing and all those things. We’ll probably start him inside his nose and let him kind of see, grow into it and see what he does. But he’s not strictly that.”

Pittsburgh is looking for a reliable nose tackle, something they haven’t had since Javon Hargrave and to an extent, Tyson Alualu before repeated leg injuries derailed his career.

Benton played both defensive end and nose tackle at Wisconsin, playing the latter towards the end of his Badgers career. With size and length and quickness, he’s able to beat centers off the ball while using his length well to extend, stack, and shed in the run game.

Benton had a great Senior Bowl week and told our Jonathan Heitritter that the Steelers informed him he was “on their radar.” Now, he’s officially a Steeler.

A great high school wrestler who went 48-2 as a senior, he has the technique, leverage, and hand use to win in the run game. While Benton will never be a dominant, high-impact pass rusher, he offers enough juice there to be an asset in base blocks. He could offer something in sub-packages, too.

In a sentence, Keeanu Benton is a perfect Pittsburgh Steeler. He checks all the boxes and affirms the team’s commitment to building up the trenches after selecting Georgia OT Broderick Jones at #14, trading up three spots to do so. With Jones, CB Joey Porter at #32, and Benton at #49, the Steelers have added size and length at all three positions.

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