The 2023 NFL draft is fast approaching, and the Senior Bowl gives the Detroit Lions a chance to study some possible targets. Among the prospects the Lions should keep their eyes on are Keeanu Benton and Nathaniel “Tank” Dell. Benton, a defensive tackle from Wisconsin, has made a strong impression at the Senior Bowl with his power and quick moves in the pass rush. Meanwhile, Dell, a wide receiver from Houston, has shown his grinder mentality and excellent separation skills, earning him attention from NFL scouts. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these two rising stars and why they could be potential targets for the Detroit Lions.
Keeanu Benton: Senior Bowl Standout rising in 2023 NFL Draft
Defensive tackle Keeanu Benton from Wisconsin has been a standout player of the 2023 Senior Bowl. His blend of power and quickness as a pass rusher has impressed NFL experts and solidified his status as a top-50 pick in the upcoming draft. Benton’s performance at the Senior Bowl has generated buzz and he is a potential target for the Detroit Lions in Round 2.
Power and Quickness in the Pass Rush
Measuring at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 317 pounds, Benton boasts a stout and stocky build. He has shown first-step quickness and agility, which allows him to play in a 3-technique role. Benton has consistently rushed from the inside and won, finishing the 2022 season with 4.5 sacks and 18 pressures. He also displayed a spin move during practice that impressed NFL Draft experts.
Anchoring a Detroit Defense
The Detroit Lions’ defense struggled against the run in 2022 and they need to make major improvements in the upcoming season. Targeting Benton in the draft could be a good start to achieving this goal. He excels at clogging rushing lanes and absorbing blocks, allowing the Lions’ linebackers to make plays.
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Dirty Work that Pays Off
Benton’s tape doesn’t show his true impact on the game as he often anchors the line and doesn’t allow much ground in the run game. He also disrupts passing lanes with his arms and excels at taking on double teams to keep his teammates clean. Despite not appearing in the stat column, Benton’s contributions in the run game are valuable to his team.
Strength and Burst in the Run Game
Benton plays with great strength and a surprising burst against the run. He pushes the line of scrimmage and can overpower offensive linemen in one-on-one situations. He also has a great swim move that he uses to slip past offensive linemen and make plays. Benton’s impact on the run game would be immediate in Cleveland.
Room for Improvement as a Pass Rusher
Benton’s weakness lies in his consistency as a pass rusher. He lacks a true pass-rush plan and struggles to make an impact if he isn’t able to overpower with his bull rush. He needs refinement in his technique to become a more effective pass rusher in the NFL. Benton’s athleticism and burst off the line of scrimmage show potential, but he needs to work on his technique to consistently win as a rusher.
“Tank” Dell Turning Heads at Senior Bowl
Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, a wide receiver from Houston, has been making waves at the Senior Bowl with his athleticism and skill set. Standing at 5-foot-8 and 163 pounds, Dell has proven that size doesn’t matter with his top-notch speed and separation abilities.
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Unstoppable Separation Skills
In Mobile, Dell’s combination of a great release, route-running, and phenomenal hands have allowed him to create constant separation from defenders. As the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns, he has clearly made an impression on scouts and raised his draft stock.
Grinder Mentality Pays Off
Dell attributes his success to his grinder mentality, both physically and mentally. To hone his skills, he makes sure to get 150-plus catches in practice, along with extra reps throwing with his teammates. He also spends every moment of his free time studying the playbook, even sacrificing sleep, to ensure he knows it better than anyone else.
Intangibles Separate Dell from the Pack
Despite his small stature, Dell’s passion and high football IQ have allowed him to consistently win. He has found a way to succeed with his excellent separation creation and fantastic hands. By the end of Senior Bowl week, Dell is expected to have raised his draft stock significantly.
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In the words of Dell, “In the NFL, speed can only take you so far…unless you’re Tyreek Hill. Everybody’s fast in the NFL, so you’ve got to know how to separate and make those 50/50 catches.” With his work ethic and skill set, the Detroit Lions should keep an eye on this rising star.
Senior Bowl Review
Keeanu Benton and Nathaniel “Tank” Dell are two players that the Detroit Lions should keep an eye on in the 2023 NFL draft. Benton’s strong play against the run and potential as a pass rusher make him an attractive option for the Lions. Dell’s unstoppable separation skills and work ethic make him a promising target for the Lions’ offense. It will be exciting to see where these two players end up and how they perform at the next level.
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