NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Ben Heeney, ILB Kansas

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: ILB Ben Heeney, Kansas

Player Information:

Ben Heeney
6-0, 231 pounds
Hometown: Hutchinson, KS

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 yard: 4.59

Bench: 19

Vert: 33.5″

Broad: 120″

3 cone: 6.68

Shuttle: 4.00

News and Notes:

While much of the Packers interests are likely finding a starter at inside linebacker, also keep in mind the Packers did lose Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore this offseason as well, so inside linebacker depth and special teams (which linebacker feature prominently) has also taken a big hit.  As I’ve mentioned before, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Packers pick a linebacker early to be a starter but also late to be a special teams player.  Ben Heeney might be one of the better special teams/linebacker prospects and could be great value on day 3.

 What they’re saying about him:

  • CBSSports.com: “He lacks ideal NFL size and length, but leaves it all on the field and thrives on instincts, playing with a throwback, fierce style. There is a lot to like about Heeney with his play speed and read/react skills to be a hunter, but the body stiffness and average athleticism limit his next level upside.”
  • NFL.com: “Undersized inside linebacker with a big motor and willingness to take chances. Lacks the athleticism to recover from mistakes in the running game and is too tight to cover in space against the pass.”

Video:

Analysis:

  • One of the best performers at the combine and his speed and agility show up on tape. He might be the fastest inside linebacker prospect this year.
  • Not the most natural when it comes to pass defense, while he has the speed he isn’t very fluid. Probably will be better in man than zone.
  • Lacks ideal functional strength to disengage with blockers; after contact Heeney’s best move to a slip by rather than bull rush the blocker.
  • Will hit his gap aggressively; has recorded many tackles for a loss.
  • Not exactly a form tackler; more of a hitter.

If drafted by the Packers

Again, I don’t think anyone is expecting Heeney to be the long term answer for the Packers at inside linebacker but that doesn’t preclude him from having an impact on the team.  First and foremost, Heeney seems incredibly well adapted to special teams, where his straight line speed and high motor could make him a leader.  Furthermore, a lot of Heeney’s weaknesses can be coached up, he can learn to be a better form tackler, make smarter reads and he can probably get better against the pass as well.  His physical measurables are pretty much in line with the rest of the 2015 inside linebacker draft class (he’s pretty much the same size as Shaq Thompson) but the whole group is relatively undersized outside of McKinney.  Overall, Heeney could be a great value pick on the 3rd day who could immediately contribute to special teams and could be groomed into a rotational inside linebacker.

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • Guest

    He might go undrafted and they can get him at a steal that way instead of taking him on the third day. I think the ILB’s they get in the draft will be Anthony in the first and Pullard in the 4th

    • dobber

      I think Anthony could slide to round 2. If not, there will be other players to be had at that stage that will likely be as good and at the appropriate level of value.

      I think the Packers go DT/OLB in round 1.

      • Thomas Hobbes

        I think there’s a decent chance that no inside linebacker is drafted in the first round, but 30th is essentially a early 2nd round pick and I do think a lot of inside linebackers will be gone at pick 62.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      CBS has Heeney as a 4th round pick and Pullard as a 6th. I also don’t think it’s a waste of a pick to draft a player mostly on special teams; hell if Thompson can pick Quinn Johnson in the 5th round with 2 fullbacks already on the team, he can spend a 4th on a special teams player.

  • dobber

    I’ve seen Heeney projected as high as round 4 based on his raw workout numbers. He was a good player on a bad team, so it’s hard to say what he’ll look like if he’s surrounded by better talent on a good team. It’s hard not to cheer for a guy who plays with his level of abandon.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Well at least you know it can’t be any worse when he’s put on the Packers special teams.

  • TedTomsin

    Well, I don’t see long hair out of his helmet so that’s a plus.
    Ted

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I’ll take the hair if he’s the next Clay Matthews

  • Thegreatreynoldo

    Lot’s to like on the tape. The guy really hits, and has a great motor. Overaggressive, & didn’t look fluid, yet his 3-cone suggests otherwise. Reads sometimes off. The offense consistently got an offensive lineman out against him (I guess Kansas really did have a bad team), and Heeney usually took the guy on rather than trying to slip the block. Good burst. Seems worth a 6th rd. draft pick to me.

    • dobber

      My suspicion is he would end up being the “chaser” in a 3-4 as opposed to the “take-on” LB. He would have to be well-protected to be effective at his size…as would Kendricks or Perryman or Thompson or Alexander… If the Packers draft someone of that body type to play the middle, they have to do something early on to reinforce the DL to cover up that player.

      • Thomas Hobbes

        Keep in mind Raji and Guion have been resigned and Pennel looked pretty good in the limited time he had last year.

  • Peter Maiz

    Why are the Packers always looking for players without necessary “size and length”. Look at Carl Bradford and how he imploded. I don’t see much hope for him at IL. Let’s get the right size for the NFL and if they have a “motor”, well good.

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