With the start of Buccaneers’ rookie camp, we take a look at one of their newest players, offensive lineman from UCLA, Caleb Benenoch.
It’s a time of year for analysis and speculation. The NFL draft is in our rear view mirrors, and workouts have begun around the league. The Buccaneers have begun the hard work of preparing for an NFL season, and that begins with rookie camp. The draftees and the undrafted players are on the field to make their first impressions. We are going to take a look at one of those players today, offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch.
One of the things the team likes about Benenoch is his versatility, as noted by Joe Kania on the team website:
"Benenoch was recruited out of high school as a guard and played both guard and tackle during his college career. As a senior, he started 13 games, nine of which were at tackle and four of which were at guard. He projects as a tackle first, but his versatility will help his chances of making the 53-man roster."
This will greatly help Benenoch in his quest to make the team. Coaches love offensive linemen that can play multiple positions, making them able to be moved around the line when needed.
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Benenoch was born in Nigeria, and his career began by accident. When he moved to Texas, his Mom didn’t realize that football was different in America, thinking it was soccer. What began serendipitously was a career that led young Caleb to UCLA, where he played immediately, starting the final nine games of his freshman year at right tackle. After a solid sophomore year, and a junior year that saw him on the inside and outside, Benenoch left UCLA for the NFL draft.
He stands at 6’5″, and weighs in at 305 pounds. A lineman has to be able to move, and that means speed. Benenoch ran a 4.98 forty yard dash at the combine, a time that was third best at the position. Speed translates into the ability to slide out in front of a speed rusher, and the ability to get to the second level in the running game as well as on a screen pass.
Here are some thoughts from an expert, courtesy of his NFL draft profile:
"Strengths: Plays with good knee bend. Above average athlete with long arms. Has lateral quickness off the snap to put himself in position for difficult zone blocks. Able to get to backside cutoff blocks when his angles are right. Has feet to mirror in space in pass protection. Aggressive worker with some recovery athleticism to work himself back into the play. Bumped inside to guard due to injury issues on team and handled his duties effectively.Weaknesses: Has thin hips and lack of natural base. Lacks core strength and functional power to pin blocks to completion once he gains advantage. Way too much waist-bending as a tackle. Leans into pass rushers opening up balance concerns. Needs to bring hands back inside with his punch. Opens the gate early in pass pro and tends to overreact when shifting his weight to defend against bursts upfield or back inside."
Time for some video, courtesy of Draft Breakdown.
The tape shows some great strengths, and where Caleb needs to improve. Look at his feet. He has an excellent slide step, and gets out of his stance fast. He is not going to get beaten by a speed rusher by him getting to the spot first. That excellent twitch, followed by slide, will prevent that from happening. He is a hustler, always looking for the next man he needs to block.
Benenoch drives his man in the running game. Look at the tape at around 1:02 for a great example. He blocks down on the opponent lined up over the guard, and drives him clear out of the way. That’s the type of driving run block that will make Bucs’ coaches excited. He also has an excellent base, rather than playing too upright.
The biggest concern comes from the bend at the waist, which is too pronounced at times. Watch when he is meeting his opponent on the outside in the pass rush. He meets him head on, but he is so bent at the waist that his opponent nearly stands him up. There are a couple of pointed examples of this early on in the footage above. He holds his block, but almost goes from bent over to totally straight up. Add that strength to guys that are even faster in the pros, and Benenoch could have problems here, although this is a technique concern that can be corrected.
This player has the chance to not only stick, but earn himself some playing time fairly quickly.