Beau Benzschawel is a 6'6, 316 pound senior right guard at the University of Wisconsin. He will be drafted in 2019; he received a day 2 or 3 grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board heading into the 2018 NFL draft and decided to return to school for his senior season. Ultimately, Benzschawel has the talent and consistent on-the-field production to be a potential first round pick in 2019. He is also, to me at least, the best guard prospect in the upcoming draft.
Benzschawel has started 36 consecutive games for Wisconsin; his last 30 starts were at right guard. In the process, he helped carry Jonathan Taylor to the FBS freshman rushing record of 1,977 rushing yards in 2017. He also was part of a unit that allowed only 1.5 sacks per game, and the Wisconsin offense finished second in Big Ten rushing offense (222.9 yards per game), and third in total offense (415.0 yards per game). In 2016, he helped pave the way for a Wisconsin rushing attack that generated 203.1 yards per game. In 2015, he missed the beginning of the season due to an injury sustained in training camp but then started the final eight games for the Badgers, six at right tackle and two at right guard. He was a key cog in an offense that generated 257 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns in his first start at right guard against Minnesota on November 28th, 2015. The pedigree is there; Wisconsin has a long history of producing starting NFL offensive linemen. The consistency was there; Benzschawel has been a key cog in an extremely productive rushing offense for the last three seasons. The versatility is also there; Benzschawel has started at both tackle and guard, something that will endear him to NFL scouts although his most likely role is as a starting right guard in the NFL. This kid deserves a long, hard look throughout the 2018 collegiate season and has an extremely high ceiling.
Benzschawel is a tough, scrappy player with the aggressive nature needed to succeed in the trenches at the next level (game tape here). Textbook example of a road grader in the running game. Has a great initial burst off of the line, which allows him to get his hands in place on a defender to initiate a block. Also showcases great use of his hands to finish blocks. Gets his hands inside on defenders, which gives him the control necessary to control a play. His initial burst off of the ball consistently puts him into position to control a defender for the duration of the play, and is also useful when Benzschawel is called upon to pull; has experience effectively pulling in the Wisconsin offense. Is able to trap defenders even when they get a strong initial push off of the line of scrimmage. This makes him a great weapon in both the rushing and passing game.
Has the size and build necessary to dominate in the NFL; has long arms which will be an asset in the passing game. One minor weakness in his playing technique is balance; on some plays he will find himself off balance, either due to the positioning of his upper body on a block or due to the placement of his feet; this is a relatively minor issue that does not impact his ability to develop into a long-term starter in the NFL. However, it is an area where he needs to grow and improve if he is to become a top guard in the league. Struggles against pass rushers on occasion because of his pad level, but this is fixable. Plays high at times on film, and this causes him to lose leverage on blocks. He has the physical tools to be a dominant force on the interior offensive line. If he can work on playing lower with better pad level on a consistent basis, then his balance issues will likely also improve; both issues are the direct result of body placement, and both can be improved together.
During the course of a block, Benzschawel is strong against swim moves and spin techniques. He has the initial burst and good hand placement necessary to gain the upper hand against these techniques. Struggles against bull rushes when his body is out of place. If he can keep his feet wider and play with a lower base, he will fix these issues. The biggest areas where he gets beat are based on pad level; if he allows a defender to get below his pads, then he gets beat on occasion. However, this is the case with any offensive lineman, and is a fixable issue.
Ultimately, Benzschawel will emerge as a first or second round talent in the 2019 NFL Draft, and rightly so. His biggest issues are fixable ones, and his upside is a huge; he projects as a potential long-time starter in the NFL. Has the lower body strength necessary to dominate in the NFL, and fixing his pad level and balance issues will be the difference between him becoming an NFL starter and an NFL Pro Bowler. To me, he is a better run blocker than a pass blocker, but is still a very good pass blocker as well. Will improve as a pass blocker as he fixes the minor holes in his game. In the 2019 draft, I believe that his absolute floor is the third round barring a catastrophic senior season, but he will likely play his way into the first or second round. Could very well be the first offensive guard off the board. When looking at offensive linemen, it is hard to bet against the University of Wisconsin's history of success at the position. Beau Benzschawel might just be one of their best products yet. One thing is certain; this kid has the tools necessary to start in the NFL.--Mike B., Matt and Mike Sports. www.mattandmikesports.com
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