Second Round, Keeanu Benton, DT, 6-4, 309 lbs., Senior, Wisconsin
With their second pick in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft and the 49th overall pick, the Steelers selected Wisconsin defensive tackle Keeanu Benton.
A true senior, Benton is still just 21 years old, but is a two-time All-Big Ten selection. Benton appeared in 45 career games, making 36 starts.
A high school football and wrestling star, Benton wins in the trenches with his heavy hands. He has a strong base and moves well as a nose tackle. But he's also active enough as a pass rusher to have some juice on passing downs, as well. Benton had 4.5 sacks in 2022 and nine overall in his career.
Much like longtime Steelers defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, a player he will help the team replace, Benton has massive legs, giving him a good base from which to anchor in the middle.
Benton had 80 tackles, including 19 for a loss in his career. He uses his heavy hands to get into the backfield and disrupt plays.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 5.09 40-yard dash with a 1.74-second 10-yard split at 309 pounds. He also had a 29 ½-inch vertical jump and a 9-3 broad jump with a 7.34-second three cone drill to go along with a 4.65-second short shuttle. Both of those shuttle times are excellent and show his very good change of direction skills.
With the Steelers, he'll be used at nose tackle where he lined up most of the time in Wisconsin's 3-4 defense, where he'll compete with holdover Montravius Adams and newcomer Breiden Fehoko for playing time.
Benton needs to work on his snap get off, but that's one thing that Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar excels at teaching his pupils.
• Dale Lolley is co-host of "SNR Drive" on Steelers Nation Radio. Subscribe to the podcast here: Apple Podcast | iHeart Podcast