LB Ja’Whuan Bentley, Purdue

6’2” – 246 lbs. – 4.75

Profile:

  • Started all twelve games as a true freshman, but saw his subsequent season end five games into the season after sustaining a knee injury during practice. Started eight of nine games played as a junior, and then made twelve starts this past season in his most productive campaign. First three-time captain in Purdue’s history.

Positives:

  • Tough, physical player with excellent leadership skills and a nonstop motor; plays with a sense of urgency and likes to thump between the tackles. Comes with essentially three years of productive starting experience in a major conference. Has a throwback build, with a very thick frame and a lot of power. Able to read keys and flow in the play direction. Likes to take on blockers and can crush fullbacks in the hole. Plays downhill and made a lot of his tackles in the backfield. Pretty disciplined with his run fits. Stays square and can deliver pop on contact to set the tone defensively. Stayed on the field on passing downs at the college level. Flashed the ability to place his hands and carry backs and tight ends as a junior, a season in which he looked more athletic.

Negatives:

  • Marginal athleticism may constrain his upside as a pro; looked like he was playing at over 260 pounds this past season, then dropped to 246 for his pro day but still put up very mediocre testing numbers. Not really a true sideline-to-sideline player in the run game. Has a better feel for playing the run than he does in coverage. Doesn’t cover a lot of ground with his drops and is probably a spy/robber type of player who can’t be left in man coverage against opposing backs, receivers, or tight ends; consequently, will probably be a two-down player at best. Temperamentally suited to special teams but doesn’t have the type of athleticism that core special-teamers usually bring. Medical issues raise questions which will require further examination.

 Summary:

  • Something of an anachronism now that the NFL has shifted away from big, powerful run stuffers and toward athletic coverage specialists with range. Seems like a pretty straightforward evaluation in that he comes with plus size, has extensive starting experience in a major conference, and does what he does well, but who also has clear athletic limitations which will likely prevent him from being an every-down starter. Probably more of a late-round option who projects as a backup inside linebacker in a 3-4.

 

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