Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: ILB Ben Heeney, Kansas
6-0, 231 pounds
Hometown: Hutchinson, KS
40 yard: 4.59
3 cone: 6.68
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.”
- 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.——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.