Not every player can be an All-Pro, so there are roles for rotational contributors and glue guys. Occasionally, players even ascend from those stations and become playmakers for their teams. Notre Dame wide receiver Ben Skowronek isn’t a widely-known 2021 NFL Draft prospect, but he could have a role waiting for him in the NFL.
Reaching the NFL is a daunting task, no matter how much talent a prospect has. But the good thing about the NFL is that it’s a vast landscape of opportunity for those with the talent to make it there.
Ben Skowronek NFL Draft Profile & Senior Bowl Measurements
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Notre Dame
- Current Year: Graduate Student
- Height: 6’2 7/8″
- Weight: 220 pounds
- Wingspan: 80 1/4″
- Arm: 32 5/8″
- Hand: 10″
Tony Pauline’s Ben Skowronek Scouting Report
Positives: Tall, sure-handed receiver who is fluid releasing off the line of scrimmage and tracks the pass in the air. Gets vertical and looks the ball into his hands. Competes to come away with the difficult catch and wins out for contested throws more times than not. Solid route runner for a bigger receiver who quickly gets into breaks then stays low on exit.
Displays focus as well as concentration, plays intelligent football, and possesses strong hands. Extends his hands to offer the quarterback a target and makes the reception away from his frame.
Negatives: Lacks play speed as well as burst. Suffered a Jones fracture in his foot during Senior Bowl practices.
Analysis: Skowronek is a reliable possession receiver with a nose for the end zone. He offers possibilities as a fifth wideout if he gets back to health and gets his game back to where it was during the 2020 season.
Ben Skowronek Player Profile
Early in his football career, it was clear that Ben Skowronek would play in some capacity at the college football level. Skowronek towered over most of his teammates at Homestead High School, boasting a 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame as a senior.
As his age-defying size indicates, Skowronek was a star for his team. Skowronek played on both offense and defense, but his main contributions came at the wide receiver position. There, Skowronek earned 133 receptions, 2,181 receiving yards, and 31 touchdowns, setting a legacy for himself at the high school ranks.
Skowronek’s success led to interest from Power Five schools. As a three-star prospect, Skowronek received offers from Big Ten schools such as Indiana, Iowa, and Purdue, and also drew attention from Cincinnati, a rising team in the Group of Five. Despite this, Skowronek decided to travel to Illinois for his commitment, signing with Pat Fitzgerald and the Northwestern Wildcats.
Starting at Northwestern
Skowronek’s career with the Northwestern Wildcats started with great promise.
Skowronek logged consistent action as a special teamer in his freshman season. As a sophomore, Skowronek saw more time on the offensive side of the ball, logging 45 catches for 644 yards and five touchdowns. Skowronek kept pace as a junior, putting up 45 receptions, 562 yards, and three scores.
An unexpected hurdle
In 2019, Skowronek was expected to build on his production and potentially springboard toward the draft. But after three games, a season-ending leg injury interrupted his development. Skowronek needed surgery for the injury and opted to take a medical redshirt.
Upon redshirting, Skowronek decided to take his talents to South Bend as a graduate transfer, heading to Notre Dame for his final season. Although he’d have big shoes to fill after Chase Claypool’s departure, Skowronek aimed to end his college career on a high note.
Playing wide receiver for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish
It took some time for Skowronek to hit the field for Notre Dame. A lingering injury prevented the graduate transfer from seeing game action until October. But once he did, the wait was well worth it for Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame offense.
Although Notre Dame has more often ridden behind their offensive line’s talent and running back Kyren Williams, Skowronek supplemented the offense with a much-needed boundary threat. Through eight regular season contests, Skowronek picked up 25 receptions, 398 yards, and five touchdowns. He also ran for a 13-yard touchdown, highlighting some modest versatility.
Skowronek vs. the ACC
Skowronek’s production was somewhat inconsistent, but on more than one occasion, he enjoyed a multi-touchdown outburst against ACC competition.
In his second game, Skowronek logged two touchdowns and 107 yards on two catches. Later on in the season, in a 45-31 win against Boston College, Skowronek again converted 100% of his catches into touchdowns, amassing 53 yards and three scores on three catches.
Featured | Schulte’s March 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
All of Skowronek’s receiving touchdowns came in those two weeks, but his flashes highlighted an ability to provide big plays in spurts. Skowronek maintained his utility in the team’s ACC Championship loss, catching four balls for 54 yards, and although Notre Dame lost, Skowronek provided value on the outside.
After Notre Dame’s CFB Playoff loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide, Skowronek set his sights on the 2021 NFL Draft. He also accepted an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in January.
Are Ben Skowronek’s flashes enough to warrant a 2021 NFL Draft selection?
Before the season, Skowronek was an unknown. He only achieved modest production at Northwestern. Furthermore, his season-ending injury stacked a red flag on top of an already-suspect profile. Skowronek’s 2020 season hasn’t been groundbreaking, but he has done enough to put his name back on the map.
Skowronek expectedly wins with his size. He stands at around 6-foot-3, 220, and he uses all of it. Skowronek plays big, almost to the point where he resembles a tight end on some snaps. The Notre Dame wide receiver has good body control and contested catch ability. Additionally, he’s fairly proactive when it comes to using his length to pry passes away from defenders.
The upside with Skowronek is suspect. Although he has decent speed, he’s far from a burner. And while his contested catch ability is a plus, his vertical athleticism is somewhat lacking. He wins more in contested situations with his focus and play strength than he does with bounce and flexibility. He’ll also be 24 years old by training camp in 2021, which isn’t ideal.
Projecting his draft spot
More likely than not, Skowronek is a late-round draft pick at best. He has good size, and his reach and strength at the catch point allow him to specialize with 50-50 balls. But beyond that, there isn’t much to build around.
Skowronek is a middling athlete, and he’s not super jittery either. He was a team captain at both the high school and collegiate level, so he has the locker room utility that teams want. Yet, his ceiling seems capped as a rotational wide receiver and special teams player.
Ben Skowronek’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
While there is some uncertainty in being a late-round prospect, Skowronek’s profile gives him some flexibility when it comes to fit. Teams always need more depth at wide receiver. They also need a steady influx of special teams players. Skowronek can fill both needs, and subsequently, he’s an easily marketable option for a team with extra picks in Rounds 5-7.
Teams that show a desire to employ pure size at receiver might be keener on selecting the Notre Dame wide receiver. Although that’s a fading archetype in the NFL, the Bengals, Titans, and Bears might have interest. Additionally, teams like the New York Giants, Vikings, and Seahawks might like Skowronek’s “football guy” mentality. He was a captain at Northwestern, he has special teams experience, and he recovered from a season-ending injury. Those traits look good in the later rounds.
For now, Skowronek is a late-round pick at best. And he’s close to settling in that range. He didn’t do much at the Senior Bowl, and he didn’t test at his pro day, either. The lack of quantified traits, combined with his uninspiring upside on tape, should relegate him to the last two rounds. Nevertheless, Skowronek has the size, leadership ability, and special teams upside to earn a selection there.
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