Jakorian Bennett, CB, Maryland | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Maryland CB Jakorian Bennett once played at the JUCO ranks, but he's now a high-level 2023 NFL Draft prospect with elite production, and the tape to back it up.

The Maryland Terrapins have two highly-rated CB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, with Jakorian Bennett joining Deonte Banks in the draft pool. Where does Bennett rank in an overwhelming CB group, and what range is he projected to go off the board?

Jakorian Bennett NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Cornerback
  • School: Maryland
  • Current Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Height/Weight: 5’10 5/8″, 193 pounds
  • Length: 31 3/8″
  • Wingspan: 76 5/8″
  • Hand: 9″

You may know about Bennett from his game-winning pick to end his collegiate career in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. Or maybe you know him from this year’s Senior Bowl coverage, where he — the hometown kid from Mobile, Alabama — stayed in the grill of each receiver he faced.

Maryland first learned of Bennett when he was a standout at Hutchinson Community College, attempting to build up his reputation at the Power Five level. Bennett logged three picks across his time at Hutchinson CC from 2018 to 2019 and ended up fielding transfer offers from Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Louisville — among others.

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All of those options were intriguing, but Bennett instead chose to join up with the Maryland Terrapins. It was a decision he wouldn’t soon regret. After earning rotational snaps in 2020, Bennett became a full-time starter in 2021, recording three interceptions and 11 deflections. The next season, he mirrored this production, adding two more picks and 10 more pass breakups.

Bennett earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten recognition in his final two seasons at Maryland and, in doing so, made himself known on the 2023 NFL Draft stage. But did he do enough to crack the early rounds?

Jakorian Bennett Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Lean athlete with quick, snappy feet and good proportional length for his size.
  • Flashes exceptional recovery speed when tracking receivers downfield.
  • Has throttle freedom to suddenly chop his feet and retract, sinking on stems.
  • Shows off excellent lateral twitch and agility when maintaining positioning.
  • Brings very willing physicality at the catch point, actively seeking to disrupt WRs.
  • Flashes quick route recognition, muscle response, and triggering ability in zone.
  • Can use shuffle steps to match in zone and enter backpedal without delay.
  • Processes and spaces himself between routes well, keeping his eyes on the QB.
  • Flashes exceptional ball-tracking ability and coordination playing passes at the catch.
  • Has the versatility to play on the boundary or rotate inside to the slot.

Areas for Improvement

  • Average-sized cornerback who lacks overwhelming mass and disruption radius.
  • Explosiveness out of transitions isn’t great, which can limit recovery at times.
  • Noticeably needs a runway to build up to his maximum speed.
  • Experiences a slight hitch on hip transitions upfield at times, stalling acceleration.
  • Will grab at receivers out of stems in an attempt to recover positioning at times.
  • Can improve weight distribution and timing of jams in press to minimize grabby reps.
  • Footwork can be uncontrolled in space, and spacing can be easily manipulated by WRs.
  • At times, can be late to get his head around and track the ball in deep coverage.
  • Sometimes takes improper angles and hesitates in run support, allowing space outside.
  • Can be prone to missed tackles, sometimes failing to properly wrap ball carriers.

Maryland CB Jakorian Bennett Current Draft Projection

Bennett grades out as an early-to-mid Day 3 prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft. His teammate Deonte Banks is the higher-graded Maryland CB in this class, but Bennett still presents appeal in the right range. Additionally, his in-built versatility provides more value later on.

The main hold-up with Bennett is the lack of high-end athletic traits at an average size. He has great long speed, but he needs a runway to gear up to that point more often than not. Out of transitions, he experiences a notable lag at times, which can render him a step behind more dynamic receivers.

Additionally, Bennett doesn’t quite have elite fluidity, so he can’t always channel full acceleration out of breaks. And technically, there’s still room for him to further refine his game. In off-man and zone, his footwork can be uncontrolled and easy to sway, and in press-man, his timing and balance can be streaky.

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What does Bennett have going for him? He’s physical, he’s very competitive, and he has great short-area twitch and foot speed. When the ball comes his way, he’s very good at contorting and using the full extent of his length to make plays. He flashes good recovery ability in space, and he can play both in the slot and on the boundary.

Bennett’s experience in the slot and on the boundary alone makes him a valuable depth CB early on, and he has the speed and physicality to play special teams. If needed, he could play either spot in a pinch at the NFL level. How far he rises will depend on further technical refinement, given his lack of elite fluidity and initial burst.

At his maximum, Bennett could develop into an above-average starter, but his most likely projection features a more rotational role.

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