Wake Forest Demon Deacons
2020 NFL Draft Prospects
Essang Bassey, CB
Career Snapshot: Two year starter for Wake Forest. Named Honorable Mention All-ACC in 2017, Second Team All-ACC in 2018, and Third Team All-ACC in 2019.
Positives: Feisty cornerback who gives effort in every area. Remains disciplined with assignments. Relatively instinctive and keen to his coverage responsibilities. Works to get his head back around to locate the pass in the air, drives to the ball out of his plant and possesses a burst of closing speed. Keeps the action in front of him, fires up the field and gives effort against the run.
Negatives: Slow out of his transition, faceguards too often and gives up a lot of receptions. Not a strong tackler and allows ball carriers to pick up yardage off initial contact. Lack of height puts him at a disadvantage.
Analysis: Despite being graded by some scouts as a potential top-75 pick prior to the season, Bassey played uninspired football in 2019 and went on to have a terrible week of practice at the Senior Bowl. He offers possibilities as a dime back in a zone system where he can face the action and Bassey looks as though he has return potential.
Jake Benzinger, OT
Career Snapshot: Three year starter for Wake Forest. Started every game at right tackle in 2019 Started games at both left and right in 2018.
Positives: Massive lineman who gets the most from his ability. Sets with a wide base, fires into blocks, and plays with proper lean. Works his hands throughout the action, stays square and anchors at the point of attack. Keeps his feet moving, gets movement as a run blocker and seals defenders from the action.
Negatives: Stiff, only effective in a small area and not light on his feet. Lacks footwork in space and cannot slide off the edge. Plays with an inconsistent base.
Analysis: Benzinger possesses next-level size, arm length and intelligence, but he’s a limited athlete. He comes with terrific size and should be put on a practice squad for future development.
Cade Carney, RB
Career Snapshot: Four year starter for Wake Forest. Two-time team captain. Finished career seventh in school history with 21 rushing touchdowns. Missed final four games due to injury in 2017. Became team’s first true freshman starter in over 65 years.
Positives: Hard-working college ball carrier who gets the most from his ability. Keeps his feet moving, shows strength as a ball carrier and runs through arm tackles. Drives his shoulders through defenders and falls forward when tackled. Patient and displays vision and short-area quickness. Picks up assignments and gives effort as a blocker.
Negatives: Best in a straight line and downhill. Lacks the speed and agility to turn the perimeter. Gets in trouble when he tries to run east and west.
Analysis: Carney is a hard-nosed football player with limited physical skills and upside. His tenacity and ability to be a short-yardage ball carrier could help him make a roster that keeps two fullbacks.
Jack Freudenthal, TE
Career Snapshot: Two year starter for Wake Forest. Began his career as a walk-on and earned a scholarship. Nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy in 2018. Named team captain for the 2019 season. Named Honorable Mention All-ACC in 2019.
Positives: Hard-working tight end who is effective in all areas of the position. Finds the soft spot in the middle of the defense, uses his frame to shield away defenders and makes the difficult catch in a crowd. Nicely adjusts to grab the errant throw from the air, takes a big hit and holds onto the ball.
Displays good hand-eye coordination and consistently makes the reception away from his frame. Explosive at the point, squares into opponents and gets movement as a run blocker.
Negatives: Lacks overall speed and quickness. Displays no outstanding physical traits.
Analysis: Despite not being graded by scouts entering the season, Freudenthal now grades as a legitimate prospect who could make an NFL roster as a third tight end.
Nate Gilliam, G
Career Snapshot: Two year starter for Wake Forest. Started 12 games at right tackle in 2018 after starting right tackle was lost for the season with an injury. Spent time at right tackle and right guard during Wake Forest career.
Positives: Hard-working blocker who is best in a small area. Quick off the snap, fires his hands into defenders and works them throughout the action. Stout at the point, anchors and does not give up an inch to defenders. Works to stays square and seals opponents from the action.
Negatives: Displays very limited agility, struggles to finish blocks and is only good in a small area. Really doesn’t block with leverage or knee bend.
Analysis: Gilliam possesses solid size, but he’s a small-area blocker with limited athleticism and upside.
Amari Henderson, CB
Career Snapshot: Three year starter for Wake Forest. Finished second in the ACC with 4 interceptions in 2019. Finished fourth all-time in school history in both passes defended and passes broken up.
Positives: Underrated cornerback who can also double as a return specialist. Instinctive, displays good awareness and gets his head back around to track the pass in the air. Keeps the action in front of him, possesses a burst of speed and shows the ability to drive to the ball out of his plant. Breaks down well, works to get off blocks and makes plays against the run.
Negatives: Plays soft coverage and gives up too many underneath receptions. Possesses a thin build and gets outmuscled for the ball.
Analysis: Henderson turned in a terrific sophomore campaign, but he was never able to expand on it. He possesses the athleticism and ball skills to play at the next level, but Henderson must improve his strength.
Justin Herron, G
Career Snapshot: Three year starter for Wake Forest. Missed all but one game in 2018 with a torn ACL. Named Third Team All-ACC in 2017 and 2019. Named to the All-ACC academic team three times.
Positives: Athletic, agile college left tackle who projects to guard at the next level. Sets with a wide base, bends his knees and shows excellent vision. Quickly gets off the snap, fires into blocks and immediately gets out to the second level. Shows the ability to redirect to linebackers and hit a moving target. Keeps his feet moving, displays solid lateral range and keeps his head on a swivel. Can adjust and redirect to pick up the blitz.
Negatives: Possesses average size and strength. Rarely gets movement as a run blocker. Struggled during the early days of Senior Bowl practice.
Analysis: Despite a consistent career at Wake Forest, Herron was lowly graded by scouts coming into the season. He’s a terrific zone-blocking prospect at guard who must improve his strength at the point. If coached properly and able to physically develop, Herron could eventually work in with the first team at the next level.
Kendall Hinton, WR
Positives: Consistent pass catcher who comes off a tremendous senior campaign. Quickly releases off the line of scrimmage, runs solid routes and displays a short burst. Smooth, fluid and agile. Gets vertical and adjusts and contorts to high point the throw over defenders. Showed ability as a return specialist last season.
Negatives: Lacks balance and gets upright. Has a tendency to gather into breaks. Must improve his focus and hand-eye coordination.
Analysis: Hinton comes off a tremendous season and is a developmental prospect who, if he continues to progress, can make a roster as a fifth receiver and return specialist.
Justin Strnad, OLB
Career Snapshot: Three year starter for Wake Forest. Honorable Mention All-ACC in 2018 and 2019. Three interceptions in 2017 were the most by a Wake Forest linebacker since Aaron Curry’s 4 in 2007.
Positives: Terrific run-and-chase linebacker who breaks down well and has the agility to easily change direction. Fast to every area of the field, displays good instincts and plays assignment football. Possesses solid range, goes sideline to sideline and shows ability in coverage. Gets depth on pass drops and easily stays with tight ends and running backs anywhere on the field.
Negatives: Gets a little too amped up at times. Lacks size and struggles to get off blocks. Possesses better football speed than he does 40 speed. Senior season was cut short by injury.
Analysis: In my opinion, Strnad is one of the more underrated conventional linebackers in the draft. Effective in space, he’s a three-down player who must polish his game, but he offers a lot of upside for the next level.
Scotty Washington, WR
Career Snapshot: One year starter for Wake Forest. Missed first two games of 2018 season due to injury. Became first Wake Forest player since 1967 to record a reception and interception in the same game in 2018 against NC State. Finished his Wake Forest career in the top 20 in receptions (110), yards (1,676), and touchdowns (13).
Positives: Big-bodied possession receiver who consistently wins out for the contested throw. Tracks the pass in the air, effectively times receptions and gets vertical to high point the ball over opponents.
Easily adjusts to the errant throw and extends backwards to grab the ball from the air. Uses the sidelines well and comes back to the pass. Effective when he extends to make the reception away from his frame. Shows the ability to snatch the ball from the air.
Negatives: Possesses average quickness and poor speed. Minimally effective after the catch. Drops catchable throws on occasion.
Analysis: Washington is a receiver in a tight end’s body and consistently wins out for the contested throw, but he struggles to separate from defenders. He must improve his route running and the nuances of the receiver position to make it out of camp this summer.
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