Photo of Heath Benedict
Grade
?
  • 5.09 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 28.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 110.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6'6" Height
  • 328LBS. Weight

Overview

» News: NFL draft prospect Heath Benedict was found dead in his Florida home on March 26.

» Combine scouting report: Never mind that he comes from the smallest school in the NCAA Division II ranks. Heath Benedict is one of the elite trap blockers in the draft.

Few linemen at any level of competition are blessed with his combination of upper-body strength, size and exceptional foot speed. Because of his quickness and ability to get out in front of sweeps, some professional scouts feel that he could make an immediate impact at the next level as an offensive guard.

Benedict was an outstanding athlete during his prep playing days, excelling as an offensive tackle in football and as a pitcher in baseball. He spent his final two seasons at the prestigious The Peddie School (Hightstown, N.J.) after attending The Hill School (Pottstown, Pa.) as a freshman and sophomore. He earned All-American honors from Parade Magazine, Prep Star, Super Prep and Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report.

Heath was listed as the seventh-best offensive tackle (#85 overall player) by Rivals.com, ranking higher than recent NFL early-round draft picks Marcus McNeil (San Diego), Max Jean-Gilles (Philadelphia) and James Marteen (Dallas). He was Prep Star's fourth-rated offensive tackle in the country and tops in the Eastern Region and was also a member of their Dream Team. He added Dallas Morning News National Top 100 and The Sporting News National Top 101 honors.

The four-star choice by Scout.com was named New Jersey's Defensive Player of the Year by state coaches in his final year and was also selected the Trenton Times' Prep Player of the Year. Benedict was rated the state's second-best prospect by Super Prep. He helped the team capture the New Jersey Class A prep school state title in 2001 and was the recipient of the school's Maurice P. Shuman Award as their outstanding football player.

He played in the national High School All-Star Game and garnered USA Today All-American status. In baseball, he led his team to the state title, as they compiled a 21-2 record during his junior season at The Peddie School, where he featured a 94 MPH fastball.

Benedict was one of seven Parade All-Americans that signed with Tennessee in the class of 2002, selecting that school over offers from South Carolina, Florida State, Miami and Nebraska. But, after he was shuttled along both the defensive and offensive lines as a redshirt freshman in 2002, Benedict decided to leave the school, as his academics also suffered.

Benedict spent the 2003 season away from football and college. He enrolled at local Newberry College in 2004 and immediately took over right offensive tackle duties. In 11 games, he registered 67 knockdowns, including 10 that resulted in touchdowns. He participated in 802 plays and graded 86.5% for blocking consistency.

A right ankle sprain, along with a left knee torn meniscus that required surgery in early October, limited Benedict to eight games and six starting assignments at Newberry in 2005. Many expected him to miss most of the season, but showing his toughness and ability to quickly recover, Heath was back on the field one game after he underwent surgery. He produced 57 knockdowns with another ten touchdown-resulting blocks and graded 86.4% for blocking consistency while being on the field for 555 plays, earning first-team All-South Atlantic Conference accolades.

Fully recovered by the 2006 season opener, Benedict went on to earn All-South Atlantic Conference and All-American first-team (Associated Press, The NFL Draft Report and D2Football.com) honors. He was a finalist for the prestigious Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award and was the recipient of the Jacobs Award as the best blocker in the SAC ranks.

Benedict was credited with 105 knockdowns, with 22 leading to touchdowns and had 17 more blocks downfield. He led all of college's offensive linemen with an 88.5% grade for blocking consistency. "Heath has as much talent as anybody I've ever seen," commented Newberry assistant coach and co-offensive coordinator Joe Blackwell. "He can run the 40 in 4.67, and is good enough and fast enough to play both sides of the ball."

Because of a series of blowouts, Newberry did not play their first unit much early in the season. But, Benedict still collected 38 key blocks and paved the way on eleven touchdown drives. The team averaged 13 1/2 yards on 42 running plays directed over his territory, as the former right tackle began his first season playing on the left side.

After three seasons at right tackle, the unanimous All-American preseason selection was shifted to the left side, in order to protect the blindside of new quarterback crop -- the previous starter, Josh Stepp, was left-handed and the new QBs were right-handed. The new left tackle was dominating throughout the team's first seven games, even though he played on a tender ankle (sprain) early in the season. Through seven games, Benedict made 86 knockdowns with 18 resulting in touchdowns, grading 92.71% for blocking consistency.

In 39 games at Newberry, Benedict started 36 contests. In 2,520 plays, he registered 315 knockdowns with 60 touchdown-resulting blocks and 53 more blocks downfield. He graded 88.28% for blocking consistency, as he allowed just 3.5 sacks and five quarterback pressures. He also added four tackles.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has the strength, speed, quickness, body control and change-of-direction agility to mirror defenders in pass protection and has an explosive burst off the snap...Shows very good sustained speed to get into the second level and has exceptional acceleration for a lineman...Despite his massive frame, he is very athletic, showing good muscle tone and a thick upper body...Shows the mental awareness to pick things up quickly and it is easy for him to learn and retain...Has good awareness adjusting to the blitz and has developed into a very "technique oriented" type of blocker, evident by his stellar blocking consistency grades as a junior...Demonstrates very good toughness and aggressiveness, showing a combative nature with his hands while being conscious of keeping his feet in order to mirror his opponent throughout the play...Plays with the nasty attitude reminiscent to his days as a defensive lineman...Consistently lets loose in the trenches and is a tough character that will play through pain...Will go after other defenders once his man is down and plays with good intensity, putting great demands on himself...Plays with that sudden explosion off the snap that instantly lets him gain the advantage on a defender... Maintains his quickness on both run and pass plays and is quite nimble redirecting down the line...When he keeps his pads down and feet in front of him, he shows excellent balance running into the second level...Quick to turn upfield and neutralize linebackers on the move and possesses one of the best timed-speed performances of any offensive lineman in college football...His nimble and fluid foot quickness is shown in his lateral movement and kick-slide...Shows ease of movement redirecting in either direction and accelerates instantly when stalking out defenders in the second level...In the short area, will retreat to neutralize the speed rush and has the loose hips to move out in front and lead the way on sweeps...Flashes good body control moving into the second level and when dropping back to seal the edge in pass protection...When making reach blocks, he locks on and sustains consistently...Patient and technique-driven, as it is rare to see him overextend...Patience is evident by the way he sustains blocks and uses his nimble feet to cut off the defenders trying to generate backside pursuit...Has that well-built upper body and arm extension to lock on and control his man...Positions himself and gets his hands up quickly on the rise, generating the strength and hand punch to impact, pop and surge with sudden force...Excels when asked to wall off and screen...Brings power to his game when driving for movement and will generally finish, possessing the loose hips to adjust on the move...Good mauler who gets a terrific push with his hands inside his frame...Has the athleticism to stay up and play the game on his feet and shows steady ability to come off the snap smoothly to pull...Is comfortable and sudden coming out of his stance and will hit with a thud when making contact...Very aware of his surroundings when working in space and fluidly adjusts to the moving targets, as he takes good angles in attempts to neutralize second-level defenders...Adjusts well to sudden movement and shows the ability to make the cut off when blocking along the perimeter...Can easily shock an opponent with his punch and keeps his hands active and within his frame to control and lock out his man... Has the technique to lock on and steer on runs and shows good explosion with his punch to jolt and gain control...Keeps his base wide in order to position and adjust to the outside edge quickness and strikes with authority in pass protection...His punch is very quick when delivering it and uses his hands well to get underneath the opponent's pads to grab and ride the defender out...Plays flat-footed, showing explosion and flexibility when changing direction. Negatives: His legs are thin and he will need to add lower-body bulk, but he generates good explosion on his initial surge off the snap...Struggled some academically at Tennessee, but has not had classroom issues since leaving that school...Because of his size, Benedict might get a bit erect in his stance at times, but he will generally keep his pads down and feet wide to anchor and control vs. the bull rush...Excels at initiating contact and uses his leg drive to plow defenders off the ball...Could use further lower-body bulk development and will need to do so to handle traps and pulls at the next level...Sometimes gets too narrow in his base when he attempts to anchor vs. stunts and blitzes...Struggled early in 2005 with his kick-slide, but once he recovered from knee problems, he showed the balance and body control needed to make reach blocks. Compares To: JORDAN GROSS, Carolina Panthers. Like Gross, Benedict has excellent foot speed and balance on the move. He is a superb second-level blocker in the running game and made steady improvement with his pass-blocking technique last year. He still needs to add bulk and strength in his lower body, but there is no doubt that he is the finest prospect in the small-college ranks.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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