The Pittsburgh Steelers, along with every other NFL organization is in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. This means they are meeting with almost all of the players who were brought in for the All-Star game. While the team is likely to meet with almost every player, what the team says to players is worth noting.
During interviews, the Steelers were supposedly showing some extra interest in Wisconsin defensive lineman Keeanu Benton. According to Benton, Mike Tomlin said he is “on their radar” as the draft prep process continues.
This per Jonathan Heitritter:
Wisconsin DL Keenau Benton told me he had his formal meeting with the #Steelers and talked to Mike Tomlin on the field yesterday. Tomlin told Benton that he is "on their radar."— Jonathan Heitritter (@J_Heits) February 1, 2023
While Tomlin might say this to a lot of prospects, it is still worth noting when a prospect says this to the media who are in attendance.
If you are like me, and don’t know much about Benton as a prospect, check out this draft profile from The Draft Network:
Keeanu Benton is one of the best run-stuffing nose tackles in college football and this draft class. One of the more impactful players on the Badgers’ defense, Benton is an unmovable force for interior offensive linemen to deal with. He’s a stout presence that holds up with a strong anchor at the point of attack and flashes the ability to reset the line of scrimmage.
The first thing that popped on film was his combination of size, length, and brute strength. Benton can uproot an offensive lineman quickly after latching. With either two hands or one, he has the power to walk blockers into the backfield, creating havoc for the ball carrier. He fits his hands and punches well into the chest plate of his opponents. His long arm is vicious and suffocating with the ability to control the offensive lineman’s balance during the exchange. The Badgers use him on twists and stunts as a looper. He displayed some closing burst once he cleared blockers and had the quarterback in his sights. His power and strength are devastating for single blockers, especially centers, to handle and maintain.
One thing I needed to see from Benton this season was a little more value on passing downs. He has added some quick moves to work his way to the quarterback. His production has increased as well—Benton has more sacks and QB hits than years prior.
He has several positives about his game. That being said, Benton is not the most explosive or flexible athlete. You should not expect a high-level pass rusher from the middle of your defense. Be prepared for him to eat up space and blockers to assist his teammates.
Top Reasons to Buy In:
- Incredible raw power
- Outstanding run-stuffing value
- Added quicker hand counters
Top Reasons For Concern:
- Pass-rush value remains limited
- Not an overly explosive athlete
- Lacks versatility and alignment
Weight: 315 lbs
Ideal Role: Nose tackle
Scheme Fit: Odd-front base, attacking/gap exchanging
The Steelers will likely be looking at bolstering the defensive line during the 2023 NFL Draft, and it makes sense to keep Benton as a potential player the team might select at some point during the three day selection process.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.