Post Draft Scouting Report: Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB

While most thought the Patriots would look to add speed at the LB position, they went with an old school thumper. Does that type of player still have a role in the NFL?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

I probably spend more time on this hobby than I should. I know my wife would agree with that statement, but she puts up with it. That being said, players fall through the cracks. Did I now who Bentley was? Yes. That is I knew the name and I had seen some highlights of his game. I was in the mode that the team needed to get more athletic and faster at the position, so I quickly dismissed him as a prospect for this team. Now that he was the pick, it was time to dive into the tape and see what he brings to the team.

First off, let’s look at his testing numbers. Bentley was not invited to the Combine, so these results are from his pro day:

Height: 6’1 1/2″

Weight: 246 Lbs

40 Yard Dash: 4.75 sec

Vertical: 29.5″

Broad Jump: 9’3″

3-cone: 7.12 sec

Short Shuttle: 4.40 sec

Bench: 31 Reps

Positives:

So, there is really nothing that stands out from his workout. He is an average athlete who is very strong. When you watch him on tape, that is exactly what you see. Bentley did say in an interview that he was told he ran a 4.64 40 yard dash, and even if that is true, the speed on tape is still just average. What I do like is the way Bentley is built. He has broad shoulders and a thick trunk, which helps him at what he does. He excels shooting gaps and making plays in the run game. He has the strength and hand usage to fend off blockers and make plays on the ball carrier. He shows good instincts to identify and fill the proper gaps. He times his blitzes well and found his way into the backfield on a consistent basis. He has a lot of play experience and has learned to diagnose plays quickly and get himself as well as teammates in correct positions. As you probably already know, he was a 4 year starter and Purdue’s first 3 time captain. He is a sure tackler and when he hits you, the play is over. Bentley shows the ability to keep himself clean while working through trash near the line of scrimmage. He keeps his eye on the ball and shoots through gaps to make plays. His instincts and intelligence help increase his play speed. He has heavy hands that he uses well and when he hits a player, they know it. In the passing game, he recognizes route concepts and puts himself in proper position to cut down passing lanes on short crossers and screens. He has shown some pass rush ability and played with his hand in the dirt at the Senior Bowl. I do not see him transitioning to that role, but it could be a wrinkle the Patriots might look to use.

Negatives:

In today’s NFL, the passing game rules, and I am not sure Bentley has the necessary athletic traits to be anything more than a 2 down “Mike” Linebacker. He does not have the straight line speed to run with Tight ends in man coverage and he lacks the lateral agility to play in zones.  In fact, if an opponent saw him on the field they may try to take advantage of that situation. While this list looks much smaller than the positives, the one issue he has is a big one.

Overall:

Bentley is an old school Linebacker. He is big and built like an oak tree and he knows how to use his strengths to their maximum capabilities. He is really smart and tough, with leadership skills that make him a great locker room guy and a player that is easy to root for. My concern is that while Bentley would have been an ideal Linebacker 20 years ago, the game has changed so much that I am not sure if his positives can outweigh the negatives. Coming to the Patriots might have been the best for Bentley, because Belichick is the one coach I would trust to find a role for him and put him into situations to succeed. I think Bentley will give Elandon Roberts a run for his roster spot and I think he has a legitimate chance of beating him out.

 

What Does The Tape Show:

This is what Bentley does on a consistent basis. He has the strength and hand usage to scrape off blockers. He also has a knack of knowing where the ball is and where it is going. This is how he makes so many plays behind the line of scrimmage and this is how I see the Patriots using him.

 

 

Again, here is Bentley showing his power to knock down the Guard, slide towards the hole and make the tackle.

 

At the Senior Bowl, they had Bentley playing edge and it is plays like this why they probably wanted to see him in that role. This athleticism did not show up consistently on tape, but it does show some potential as a blitzer from multiple gaps. He looks much more fluid when moving forward.

 

As Evan stated in his original tweet, this is why Bentley was not considered a higher prospect. He does everything correct in this play but just does not have the speed to stay with the Receiver. He recognizes the Receiver coming into his zone and he tries to flow with the play, but the player gets separation and there is nothing Bentley can do.

 

Again, another play where Bentley’s lack of fluid movements make him just a split second late. He does take a false step at the snap, which didn’t help, but it seems he tries to compensate for his stiffness by jumping routes and it can get him in trouble.

 

Final Thoughts:

When you listen to Patriots coaching staff talk about this guy, they seem to light up with excitement. Obviously they love the person, and it is easy to see why. He is a high character, intelligent guy who brings an old school mentality to the team. Obviously, Bentley has some limitations in his game, but I think he can also be a very productive player if he is put into the right situations. This pick gets a bump because I think this staff will know how to use him. I like the thought of the team using him similar to when the Patriots were blitzing Hightower and Collins a few years ago and were having a lot of success doing so. If they can keep him out of coverage situations, he will be a nice addition. I think he will supplant Elandon Roberts on the roster, which is a good thing.

 

8 Responses to “Post Draft Scouting Report: Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB”

  1. Russell says:

    Sounds like a Hightower back up.

  2. Stephen J says:

    Well I mentioned in the Vita Vea scouting report and Patriots Draft Thoughts about the Pats looking for a Hightower replacement. Well I copied that here and added a Dont’a Hightower Scouting Report for comparisons sake.

    http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2018/04/scouting-report-vita-vea-dt.html

    Well guess what Ja’whaun Bentley seems to be that guy. Nick Caserio stated that he was a MLB during his press conference.

    ………………Ja’whaun Bentley…..Dont’a Hightower
    He played at 260 lbs……………….plays at 265
    Height……..6’1 5/8″……………….. 6’2 1/4″
    40……………..4.75……………………4.68
    10 Split……..1.66……………………1.66
    Vert…………..29.5″…………………..33″
    Broad………..9’3″…………………….9’9″
    20 Shuttle….4.40……………………4.64
    3 Cone………7.12……………………7.55

    College Stats

    Career Games…37…………………44
    Solo Tackles……160……………….101
    Total Tackles……272……………….234
    TFL’s……………….29.5………………21.0
    Sacks……………….1.0………………..5.0
    Int’s…………………2.0………………..1.0
    PBU’s………………..7.0……………….7.0
    FF’s…………………..2.0………………..2.0

    PFF had him rated at 91.2 overall which ranked second among draft-eligible LBs in 2018.
    His 95.0 run-defense grade ranks 5th in the PFF College era for a linebacker.
    He was was the first three-time captain in Purdue football history.
    He is 21 years old and is still a little raw will need a year or two to develop.

    Here is Dont’a Hightowers Scouting Report

    https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1145366-the-6-biggest-strengths-and-weaknesses-of-donta-hightowers-game#slide1

  3. DaveDan says:

    Worth noting Ja’Whaun’s pick six vs Minnesota No 9 WR Eric Carter is not able to close on Ja’Whaun

  4. rodmiester says:

    Mike,
    Thanks for all your hard work bringing both the prospects and the draft picks to the website. I certainly appreciate all the work you put into just a “hobby”. It is always a pleasure reading you thoughts about the draft picks and prospects.

  5. brandon maxham says:

    I’m not sure about Bentley yet but he has leadership skills( 3 time captain).

  6. brandon maxham says:

    A nice feature on Bentley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1sq3poCHRs

  7. GM-In-Training says:

    I think he does what he does well, and the Pats need to be better defending the run.

    I agree he appears to be an upgrade from Roberts.

    My concern is that anybody who is a liability in coverage can be exploited.

    I really think the Pats need to have 3 do-everything LB, and right now only have Hightower in that category.

    My guess is the Pats will be looking hard to trade for a veteran LB who is not too old to cover, and yet is being squeezed out by a younger, cheaper LB on their current team. Maybe somebody in the last year and/or butts heads with their coach.

    I don’t think they’ll find a veteran do-everything LB who is being misused on their current team, because almost by definition, do-everything LB can’t be misused. They might find somebody who needs a fresh start, ala Shea McClellin.

  8. steve earle says:

    Looks like a Sp.team guy, goal line, short yardage that sort of thing. Does he make the 53 is a big question in my mind? Not at all hopeful he helps.

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