Rookie Spotlight: Eno Benjamin, Arizona St.
Height: 5’ 8 7/8” (official)
Weight: 207 lbs (official)
Hands: 8 5/8”
Arm: 31 1/4”
40 yard dash: 4.57 (official)
NFL Comparison: Devonta Freeman, Devin Singletary, Chase Edmonds
– balance through contact
– lateral agility
– excellent footwork
– masterful stop/start
– finishes runs hard
– soft hands
– good ball security
– lacks elite straight line speed
– indecisive, dances too much
– impatient for blocks to form
– decrease in production in 2019 after stellar 2018
– has had his wheels run off dating back to high school
– unimpressive Senior Bowl week
– yo-yo weight loss/gain during draft process
Scouting Notes: There are a lot of things to like about Benjamin’s play. First, he’s got a motor like the Energizer bunny. He hits defenders, changes direction with his legs churning and veers into another direction, pirouetting into spin-moves and jukes only to do the same time and again until he’s picked up sizable yardage. Ever since high school, we’ve thought of him as somewhat of a human pinball machine. Benjamin has quick high-stepping feet that rapidly move him side to side, and he’s able to abruptly stop and start runs while maintaining balance in a way very similar to Devin Singletary as a collegiate athlete. And while Benjamin is so elusive, he’s also hard to bring down due to those feet that never stop chugging along.
While Benjamin is quick laterally and in short spaces, he doesn’t possess elite long speed downfield. And for all of his ability to improvise on the field, he sometimes takes it a step too far, as he can be indecisive as a runner and can be impatient in waiting for his blocks to form and lanes to open up. The ability to go off script is a plus, but it shouldn’t happen as often as it does with him.
With 77 receptions in the last two seasons, Benjamin has reliable hands and his erratic running style makes him hard to cover in the open field. That being said, he could stand to sharpen up his route running, and he has the occasional focus drop. We should also note that he looked perfectly able, but not as fantastic as Antonio Gibson during RB receiving drills at the Senior Bowl.
The problem with Benjamin for most is the tale of two seasons from 2018 to 2019. In 2018, Benjamin had 355 touches with one fumble on the way to 1,600+ yards with a 5.5 YPC average. In 2019, He still managed to top 1,000 yards, but he fumbled the ball six times, and his average fell to 4.3 YPC. He did lose his quarterback and many offensive line players between those seasons, so it’s not all his fault, but for someone who makes his name improvising, he should be able to make more of his own way.
Fantasy Outlook: Benjamin probably isn’t considered a top-5 back in the draft, despite a productive college career, largely due to his slower 40 yard dash time (4.57 and) and “disappointing” 2019 season. That being said, he represents value at the position with his impressive ability to stay on his feet and produce in multiple aspects of the game – His blocking is up and down, but he can improve there. He projects as a 3-down back with upside, and he’s likely to surprise a lot of people at the next level. He’s a fine addition as your first back in dynasty formats, should you choose to go WR heavy with late-round 1 picks, as he stands to be just as productive as any of the top tier guys if in the right system, which would be one that allows him some freedom to roam.
Benjamin Placed on Walter Camp Player of the Year Preseason Watch List
Benjamin Selected to Hornung and Wuerffel Award Preseason Watch List
Benjamin Named to Doak Walker Preseason Watch List
Benjamin Earns Spot on Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List
Benjamin Picked as a Preseason All-American by Phil Steele
Returns to Tempe after enjoying one of the greatest seasons by a running back in school history
Record-setting sophomore season in his first-year as the starting running back
2,190 (1,784 rushing) all-purpose yards during his two seasons at Arizona State
Great vision and footwork help him change direction quickly making him difficult to square up
Built low to the ground with tremendous lower body strength giving him great balance and leg drive, creating plenty of yards after contact
Dynamic play maker with the ball in his hands, making him a weapon out of the backfield and in the return game
QUOTABLE FROM THE COMBINE:
RE: How did the ASU coaching staff (Herm Edwards, Antonio Pierce, etc.) prepare him for the combine:
EB: Basically, the vision when Herm was hired was to basically set us up for this stage here. Everything we did was pro like. I think he did a very good job, the whole staff in a very good job of teaching us how to be a pro and how to go about our business. And so I really commend that staff for getting me where I am today.
RE: Can you give me some examples?
EB: I would say, I mean, just two of Herm’s biggest things were be on time and be where you’re supposed to be, and those things really pay dividends. Like I said, he treated us like professionals. And so everything after that he kind of let us do on our own. And I felt like that helped us grow into being prepared for this stage.
RE: What did Herm tell them before the Oregon victory?
EB: I wouldn’t say he told us much. I think it was more so just the previous year before that we had an opportunity to seal the [inaudible] championship, our PAC 12 South title. And we went up to Oregon and we lost by two. And so it was kind of a revenge game for us. It wasn’t more, ‘So let’s knock them out of the playoffs and keep them from going to,’ it was more so getting back to what they took from us.
RE: What separates him from the rest of the running backs in this class?
EB: I would say just my will to compete. I know a lot of these guys, they’re great guys. But at the end of the day I felt like I bring a lot to the table.
RE: What are the best/worst parts of his game.
EB: I would say that’s part of my game is being able to make the first man miss and stay up in contact battles are the things that I pride myself on. One thing I would say I think I could improve on, I would say pass protection–not from a physical standpoint or willingness, more so the technique of it.
RE: Did he have any plays where he had to read the defense coming out on routes?
EB: Oh yeah. We have options. So it’s either in and out or sit. You can sit in the middle of the zone.
RE: Best part of his game.
EB: I would say physical. I would say smart. I like to see things pre-snap before they happen and kind of have an idea of where I’m going before the ball is snapped. I would say I’m pretty agile as well.
RE: Why his spin move is so effective.
EB: I would say just being aware of what’s going on around me. I think I have a pretty good feel of the game and I know how to use leverage. At this point in time, football is not about your moves and what you do. I think it’s more about angles and leverage. And so you kind of basically set that up and basically take full advantage of it.
RE: How much weight did he put on for the combine?
EB: I would say, I don’t know. When you look back at the senior bowl compared to now, you’d say 12 pounds but at the time I was, I was shedding weight. So what you do with that is you decrease your calorie intake and you’re able to lose weight. And I wanted to get to a point where I felt most comfortable and then add back and still feel comfortable. And so all I did was increase my calorie intake. I feel comfortable where I’m at.
RE: Purpose to his weight gain?
EB: Oh, yeah, that was to find out where I felt most comfortable, where I felt like my fastest would be. And then from there where I felt comfortable build back on and keep it and still feel comfortable,
RE: What formation does he like to run from?
EB: I like under center and I like spreading out a shotgun as well.
RE: I formation?
EB: Yes, sir. Fullback in front. The TE is what we used and everything like that. Yes sir.
RE: Favorite NFL running backs
EB: I would say there’s a few of them. I would say Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Le歎eon Bell. I think Saquon Barkley’s determination to finish runs is something I like to model my game after. I like Alvin Karam’s versatility. As far as being able to run the ball and catch the ball. And Le’Veon Bell, I like his patience. He’s one of those guys who really understands what’s going on. Oftentimes I sit in the offensive line room so I can understand what they’re doing and get out there and help those little things, so we play faster on the field.
(INAUDIBLE) — Something about adversity ASU had last year
EB: I’m glad it happened like that. I wouldn’t want it to happen the reverse way. Just being able to see things like that. I think I really, truly developed a leadership skill. I mean, it was not more so about me. It was about what can I do to help the team win. So it was getting five carries, 11 carries, 20 yards, 50 yards–little things such as if I’m going to run this run, I’m going to run it as fast as I can, knowing I’m not going to get the ball so I can open up someone else. And just little things like that helped me play and really make it more about the team than myself.
RE: Was it frustrating?
EB: Was it frustrating? No because at the beginning of the season those were conversations me and Herm had. We knew we were going to be starting young guys on the line, a freshman quarterback, so we knew we were going to see nine, eight, nine boxes and so it was something that I was kind of prepared for. It was, like I said, it was just basically becoming less of me and more about the team.
RE: Which RBs in this draft class does he admire?
EB: Really all these guys. I really, J.K.,(Joshua Kelley?) Cam Akers –those are guys that I always competed with in these rival camps and I built really good relationships with them. And so I do admire their game just because I know how long or how far they’ve come from where they’ve been and just the places that they come from. So it’s kind of an awesome seeing us all being on this huge stage–just a young group of kids just trying to get here at the same time.
RE: What will he miss most about school?
EB: I would say I would say the people. I left, I left Texas at 17 years old. I was able to go out and experience things on my own and I was able to really find myself and grow and just being around those people, I felt like those are really the people who molded me sort of kind of who I am in today. And so I’m, I’m probably gonna miss the people the most.
RE: Inaudible–something about how playing football in Texas prepared him
EB: Just even leaving from high school, I felt like a Texas football prepares me for the college collegiate level. So I felt confident there and I felt like here at this college level, just the pro staff that we had and just the way they did things and something similar to where we were going to see any NFL. And so I’m ready. I’m willing to learn and do whatever it takes to make a roster and make it stick.
RE: A game against Oregon where the ASU OL struggled, and his numbers reflected it.
EB: I think the game plan was to run the ball. We wanted to keep the ball out of their offense’s hands . We went in with that game plan and they kind of said we were gonna lay on you. And so just basically go in and preparing that way, playing fast, making sure you’re playing fast, making sure during the whole week of practice you’re locking down on your keys and know who their go-to guys are, guys to watch and stuff like that.