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ESPN’s Matt Bowen Highlights Keeanu Benton As A ‘Perfect Fit’ For Steelers

Early on in the pre-draft process, Steelers Depot’s own Alex Kozora highlighted Wisconsin defensive tackle Keeanu Benton as the type of defensive lineman the Pittsburgh Steelers should target.

Benton checked all of the boxes the Steelers look for at the position.

Lo and behold, Benton became a Steeler in the 2023 NFL Draft, coming off the board in the second round at No. 49 overall, plugging a need for the Steelers along the defensive line between stalwart Cameron Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi.

Now, it seems like everyone is coming around on the Benton fit in Pittsburgh. ESPN’s Matt Bowen was the latest, calling Benton a “perfect fit” for the Steelers defensively in a piece for Tuesday morning.

“I picked Benton here because he fits in the Steelers’ front as a nose guard due to his size and play strength. At 6-foot-4, 308 pounds, Benton can take on double-teams, and the hand usage skills are there for him to disengage from blockers and pick up run-game stops (12 last year),” Bowen writes. “Benton can push the pocket in passing situations, too, creating even more interior disruption for one of the NFL’s top defensive lines. He posted 4.5 sacks in his final year at Wisconsin. Let’s not make this one complicated; Benton is an ascending player who will be deployed in a perfect spot that fits his traits.”

Benton will start out at nose tackle in Pittsburgh, which is a smart position to deploy him in initially. Benton brings an intriguing package of strength and athleticism to the position for the Steelers. As defensive coordinator Teryl Austin stated Benton is much more polished as a run defender than a pass rusher, and that shows up on tape.

The Wisconsin product should be able to see the field right away due to his abilities as a run defender, which Austin pointed out. How well he develops as a pass rusher will be key for Benton to see more snaps than just when the Steelers are in their base defense with him at the nose tackle. With his size, traits and overall testing numbers, there’s no reason Benton shouldn’t be able to take that next step as a pass rusher and really develop an all-around game on the interior.

That will be worth monitoring moving forward, but there’s no denying that — at least on paper — Benton is a perfect fit in Pittsburgh, slotted in between Heyward and Ogunjobi as a true nose tackle with a high ceiling to be more than just a high-end run stuffer.

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