From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I’ll be profiling Maryland DB Jakorian Bennett.
#2 Jakorian Bennett/DB Maryland – 5105, 188s lbs. (Senior Bowl)
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Jakorian Bennett||5105, 188||9 1/8||31 7/8||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Twitchy athlete with great foundational movement skills
— Has experience playing both the boundary and field spots, as well as working from the slot, even occasionally playing snaps at safety and dimebacker
— Has played in a variety of coverages, including rotating into the post in inverted coverage schemes
— Plays with nice patience and good pad level in off-coverage
— Does a nice job to close to the top shoulder when working from out of phase
— More than willing to throw his weight around, both when tackling the catch and defending the run game
— Can disrupt receivers in their release phase with powerful, off-hand jams into the chest plate
— Does a nice job to trigger quickly and slip blocks in space when defending opponent screen game
— Uses his frame well to squeeze receivers into the sideline
— Has efficient sink/drive motion when breaking from his pedal
— Does a nice job to plaster in scramble drill, attaches to the upfield shoulder to protect against explosive plays
— Takes calculated chances to punch and rake at the football
— Healthy ball production throughout his career
— Can be lackadaisical in his transitions, will need to improve attention to detail there
—Lacks great contact balance to combat larger framed receivers at the top of their routes
— Tends to open his hips prematurely in press coverage, needs to trust his long speed, and ability to play from out of phase more
— Struggles to get off blocks on the perimeter
— Will occasionally get caught with his eyes in the backfield in zone coverage, which allows quarterbacks to manipulate him with their eyes and move him out of potential throwing lanes
— Plants outside his frame at times when transitioning
— Struggles at times to locate the football on vertical routes, both when playing from in phase and out of phase, panics at times with the ball in the air
— 69 tackles 4.5 TFLs 4 INTs 29 PDs 1 BLK
— 2022: 39 tackles 1.5 TFLs 1 INT 11 PDs 1 BLK
— 2022 Duke’s Mayo Bowl MVP
—2023 Senior Bowl Invite
— 2022 and 2021 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention
— PFF cornerback of the week (9/27/22)
Every season, certain players are able to boost their draft stock with impressive showings at the annual NFL Scouting Combine. At that point, it is up to scouts, coaches, and the rest of us in the NFL Draft community to answer the age old question, does “player x’s” otherworldly athletic testing translate to on field production.
Enter Jakorian Bennett, a versatile defensive back out of Maryland, who posted 90+ percentile figures in various tests including the broad jump, vertical jump, 40-yard dash, and 10-yard split. Respectively he posted the second fastest 40 time, third fastest 10-yard split time, fifth best broad jump, and sixth best vertical among all participants at this year’s combine.
Working from both press and off-coverage alignments, Bennett’s speed certainly shows up at times on tape, particularly when asked to match receivers across the field on crossing routes. Here, aligned in press man coverage against a cut split receiver, Bennett works from outside leverage, leaving him initially overleveraged on the shallow crosser.
Following the receivers initial release, Bennett does a nice job to flip his hips, close to the near hip, close ground to get back in phase, and deliver a physical punch through the pocket at the catch point, finishing the receiver through the ground to secure the pass breakup. Bennett’s best trait in coverage is his feisty approach at the catch point, where he uses physicality and relentless effort to make receivers work through contact on tough, combative catch attempts.
At his best in press coverage, Bennett has put together some elite reps, showcasing elite hip mobility and crafty veteran tools to stay in location with receivers upfield shoulder. Here, working from press coverage in the boundary, Bennett aligns with outside leverage, staying square and working to protect his leverage post snap before flipping and closing to the receivers near hip as the route declares inside.
As the receiver lowers his pad level to snap off on the curl route, Bennett sinks his hips in unison, throttling down and subtly hooking the receiver’s hip to stay in location with the top shoulder. Reps like this give promise that with continued refinement of his technique, Bennett could eventually be a high level, man coverage player in a sub-package role at the next level.
While he certainly produces some high-level reps in press coverage, Bennett struggles in a number of areas that may hinder his ability to succeed at the next level, chief among those being his inability to consistently locate the football downfield, stay square at the line, and fight through contact from larger framed receivers at the catch point.
Here, once again working from press-coverage in the boundary, Bennett does a nice job to initially stay square in the release phase, staying patient and forcing a wide release before closing to the near hip and working to squeeze the receiver into the sideline. Effectively squeezing the receiver out of bounds, Bennett turns from in phase to locate the football, but loses balance, and allows the receiver a relatively uncontested opportunity at the catch point.
Once in phase here, ideally you would like to see Bennett be far more aggressive and use his freakish athletic abilities to high point the football and secure the takeaway. He has far too many reps on tape where potential interception opportunities result in either pass breakups or combative catches going the other way.
In off-coverage, Bennett does a nice job to stay patient and square in his pedal, allowing him to be reactive and contest receivers at all three levels of the field. A willing tackler, Bennett does a nice job to punish receivers with physicality at the catch point when allowed to come downhill from flat-foot reads and convert his speed into hit power at the point of contact.
Here, playing 1×7 with inside leverage against the wide split receiver into the boundary, Bennett keys the backfield for quick game, snapping his eyes to the receiver, staying square in a flat-foot read, and efficiently transitioning downhill to close to the catch point. Taking a perfect angle, Bennett closes and delivers a powerful hit at the catch point to eliminate any YAC opportunity and punish the receiver after a minimal gain. His comfortability in off-coverage could help him at the next level, where he will continue to see increased work in the slot.
While he generally struggles to disengage from stalk blocks on the perimeter, Bennett, to his credit, can circumvent this shortcoming in his game by triggering quickly and slipping blocks on the perimeter to knife into the backfield and make plays at or behind the line of scrimmage. Here, working form an apex alignment (split distance between EMOL and #2 receiver), Bennett is tasked with a hook/curl zone assignment in a Cover 2 scheme.
At the snap, Bennett expands for width, keeping leverage on the back before diagnosing the swing screen, slipping a block on the perimeter, putting the receiver on his back, and knifing low to add onto the tackle at the line of scrimmage. Once past the receiver, Bennett does a nice job to rip and keep his outside arm free to effectively hold outside contain while involving himself in the tackle.
Bennett’s willingness and physicality as a tackler translate in the run game as well, a trait which should help him translate into a sub-package role at the next level, where he will be likely to see far more snaps on the inside. Here, working as the field corner, defending Michigan’s 22-personnel heavy set, Bennett follows motion into the box, keying backfield action and folding over to fill the backside A-gap and aim low to limit the back to a minimal gain with a nice leg tackle. Willingness is a plus, but Bennett’s fundamental understanding of Maryland’s defensive run-fit structure helped allow him to cover for his teammates and plug gaps at a high level from the secondary.
For a player who has little issue showing physicality in the tackling department, Bennett struggles mightily to disengage from stalk blocks on the perimeter, a weakness that can be readily exploited on wide receiver screens and perimeter runs when is unable to slip blocks. Here, aligned as the field corner, playing 3×6 with outside leverage to the tight bunch formation, Bennett is a step slow in diagnosing the bubble screen, allowing the receiver to work into his chest, and drive him downfield.
Simply put, he needs to bring the same fight that he does as a tackler in block destruction, as he often provided no resistance on the perimeter when asked to set a hard edge. While he has the frame and arm length to improve in block destruction, an overall lack of play strength is seemingly an area where he will need to improve mightily at the next level.
When Bennett’s two chief weaknesses combine on a rep, Bennett can simply look lost at times. Here, with SMU working in a free play situation, he is caught with his eyes in the backfield at the snap, leaving him late to flip, transition, and carry the receiver vertically. Working from in phase at the catch point, Bennett turns to locate the football, allowing the receiver to easily work his blind spot, and execute an easy throw-by for an uncontested explosive play reception.
With the receiver still in the intermediate area of the field, an experienced corner would know to turn into the receiver, squeezing to get chest to chest and protecting against back shoulder and comeback, working to force the lower percentage throw down the sideline. Bennett’s lack of instincts and ball skills, along with his lack of high-end play strength, are the two biggest limiting factors that will work against him seeing snaps early in his career at the next level.
Overall, Jakorian Bennett’s biggest strength lies in his versatility, and ability to line up virtually anywhere in the secondary. I’d tend to say his best fit at the next level is likely in the slot, where he can play from off-coverage and react downhill, while also adding the ability to execute post snap rotations and function as a safety in inverted coverages.
His lack of natural feel in press coverage likely prevents him from functioning as a high-level boundary corner, while his lack of play strength limits his ability to function as a full-time starter at safety. Although I don’t see him ever becoming an every down starter, Bennett’s versatility could help him provide valuable depth and sub-package value, while helping out on special teams early in his career.
In terms of a pro-player comparison, he tends to remind me a bit of New York Giants slot cornerback, Darnay Holmes, who similarly relied on superior athleticism and a feisty approach, but had questions about his play strength that dropped his draft stock. Jakorian Bennett is certainly an interesting Day Three target, but any team that is interested should understand that they are drafting a project with high upside, and not a refined player that they should rely on for heavy contributions in his rookie season.
Projection: Early to Mid Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 7.1-Rotational Player (4th Round)
Games Watched: at Michigan (2022), vs Michigan State (2022), vs SMU (2022)