Film room today on one of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft picks I’ve talked about for several months, second-round defensive lineman Keeanu Benton. Though he’ll begin his NFL career at nose tackle and needs to stop the run first and foremost, his tape shows he can rush the passer too even if he didn’t have overwhelming college sack production.
Today, I want to break down Benton’s lower-half flexibility. Hip and ankle flexibility to bend and corner will serve him well as a pass rusher at the NFL level. Three clips show that today.
The first is one I mentioned during the pre-draft process and comes courtesy of Twitter user Tyler Browning. Against Illinois, Benton is aligned at nose tackle over center. He first tries a spin move, which certainly isn’t his game, before getting pushed back inside. It works out for the best. Though the center stays square and is able to mirror him, Benton is able to bend and flatten enough to get his hands on the escaping quarterback and finish the play.
I’ll show the clip below but here’s a screenshot of it. Watch Benton’s lower half, his hips and ankles, which allows him to bend. You don’t see that from a lot of guys his size.
And here’s the whole clip.
I showed this clip in my “favorite trait of each draft pick” video I released a few weeks ago. But it’s worth looking at this one again and a little more in depth. Again, Benton is aligned at nose tackle over center. You see his upper and lower half working in concert here. He clubs and then swims the center with the hip and ankle flexion to bend through the center and steer himself to the quarterback without getting pushed upfield. He finishes with good hit power on the quarterback without drawing a penalty.
Again, full clip below but here’s the bend. You see it more in his ankles here, which help him corner to the quarterback instead of being sealed by the center. A really quality rush.
The entire play.
Last example. Sack against Minnesota. Only have TV angle here but you can see Benton at nose tackle over center and rush over left guard. The guard does stop his feet here and that helps Benton but you can see him corner and flatten enough to take down the QB.
Another screengrab to show that flexion to turn the corner.
And the entire play.
I don’t think Benton is going to be a high-level, Cam Heyward-type of pass rusher. He’s just a little too big and heavy-footed to be quite that kind of guy. But there certainly is not just pass rush potential but pass rush production on his tape. And his hip and ankle flexibility for a guy with his large lower half is uncommon to see. At the least, it’s going to allow him to make and finish plays others can’t, turning pressures into sacks.