2014 NFL Draft: Pre-Season Breakdown – Bené Benwikere, S San Jose State


December 27, 2012; Washington, DC USA; San Jose State Spartans defensive back Bene Benwikere (21) blocks the punt of Bowling Green Falcons punter Brian Schmiedebusch (95) in the third quarter of the 2012 Military Bowl at RFK Stadium. The Spartans won 29-20. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose State program has a few talented offensive prospects that should be factors in the NFL Draft, but they have a talented defensive back this year in Bené Benwikere.  With experience both at cornerback as well as safety at times during his Spartan career, Benwikere has been able to make his share of big time plays.  This year, Benwikere is going back to safety after producing 44 solo tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 7 interceptions, 4 pass deflections, 2 fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a pair of touchdowns.

Benwikere has a ton of ability and made a number of impact plays last year but he is incredibly inconsistent.  When he is engaged and focused, he can be a complete football player but he is equally likely to have stretches where he looks mediocre.  The inconsistency has him as a fringe top 100 pick but if he can put it together and keep it together this year in addition to showing how good a fit he can be as a safety, he can move up substantially.

Vitals & Build

Benwikere is listed at 6’ 192lbs with impressive functional strength and good athleticism.  He does not always show what he can do in terms of speed as he will slow play some opponents trying to bait them, so he can give a false impression about how much speed he has.  His strength is good and as he moves to the safety spot, he should only continue to fill out and get more dangerous.  It is unclear if it is necessarily a motor issue, but Benwikere’s effort and focus seems to vary at times and that is something that needs to improve going into his senior year.


Benwikere is wildly inconsistent as a tackler.  In some instances, Benwikeree is terrific and not only able to make tackles but make impact tackles while at other times, he will miss badly and look ugly in the process.  In the course of handful of plays, Benwikere will come downhill, wrap up and drive through contact on a running back in the backfield, track a receiver down from behind and while securing the tackle, come with an axe chop down on the football, try to lunge and miss someone badly and then get beat with quickness because he simply did not break down properly.  The area where Benwikere needs to be at his best as a tackler, defending the back end as the last line of defense, he seems to be at his worst.  At times, his effort is mediocre and he almost seems to concede touchdowns in the red zone when he could potentially stop a runner short.  Benwikere clearly has the ability to be a great tackler and he shows it, but he will get sloppy with technique and get sloppy results as well.  If he can just find consistency and keep that level of focus throughout the whole game and over the course of the season, he can be a huge asset in that area of his game.

Run Support

As with his tackling, Benwikere is inconsistent in this part of his game.  He can improve his ability to diagnose and react to the run, but he is more than willing to come downhill and be aggressive against the run and running backs, but he can disappear at times as well.  His effort taking on blocks varies and there are times when he shows exactly what a coach would want; bringing an aggressive mindset with active hands and going in with bad intentions, shedding the block and making a play on the ball carrier.  There are other times when he gets washed out too easily or ends up in a bad situation he could have avoided.

Whether he is lined up at corner or safety, he is an effective player on the blitz and can react and adjust to run and make a big time play in the process.  He does his best work coming forward and shows that aggressive mindset that people want to see from him consistently.


Benwikere has experience lining up on the outside as well as in the slot as a corner as well as being on the back end as a safety.  He is dangerous in the middle of the field because he can intercept passes underneath and appears to try to bait quarterbacks into throwing at him and making a play on the football.  Too often, he gets caught in bad positions and is unable to make up the ground he allows receivers to get on him which makes him someone who gives up a large number of completions.  Benwikere shows solid makeup speed but when he is out of position or giving up some of the space he does, he is simply unable to make up the distance.  While his ability to cause turnovers is attractive, he lets some average football players put up big time numbers against him, which leaves him open to the question of how he will perform against better receivers, whether as a senior for the Spartans or going forward to the NFL.

He never seems to be in a receiver’s hip pocket and it is unclear if he has any kind of comfort level in that area.  As it relates to safety, he is more comfortable playing off and coming up to make plays on the ball, undercutting routes and making plays.  He also has good leaping ability to go up and high point the football.

Ball Skills

Benwikere has natural hands and is able to concentrate on the ball well with the ability to adjust to tips.  If he is able to get in position to make the play, he is not one to waste opportunities and will make a team pay for making a bad throw.  Benwikere is also a guy who is able to can be a threat with the ball in his hands to take it all the way and is not afraid to be aggressive as a return threat.

Special Teams

Benwikere has experience working in punt coverage as a gunner and was able to block a punt in their bowl victory against Bowling Green which caused a safety and was a key play that helped fuel a Spartan win.

System Fit

Benwikere gives a number of options to the team that picks him.  He can potentially contribute as a free safety, corner, and work as a nickel defender.  He has experience at all of those spots and could see time in all of those spots if the team that takes him wants to be creative.  His best fit will likely come in as a free safety but he could cut his teeth inside in the slot in nickel.  When he is on his game as a tackler, he is able to be a good run defender who can make a big hit when the opportunity presents itself as well as someone who can blitz off of the edge.


Thu, Aug. 29vs. Sacramento State
Sat, Sept. 7at Stanford
Sat, Sept. 21at Minnesota
Fri, Sept. 27vs. Utah State
Sat, Oct. 5at Hawaii
Sat, Oct. 12at Colorado State
Sat, Oct. 26vs. Wyoming
Sat, Nov. 2at UNLV
Sat, Nov. 9vs. San Diego State
Sat, Nov. 16at Nevada
Fri, Nov. 22vs. Navy
Fri, Nov. 29vs. Fresno State

Notable Games

The game in Palo Alto against Stanford is huge for every player on San Jose State but Benwikere will need to be able to create plays against Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal passing game.  In terms of competition, they are the best team San Jose State plays on the schedule so it is a huge opportunity for Benwikere to make a statement.  The Spartans could end up in a few shootouts this year and Wyoming is a team that could surprise some people with how they can score points.  Their quarterback, Brett Smith could be ready for a big year and Benwikere could have some opportunities for big plays on the back end of the Spartan defense.  The regular season finale features David Fales and Derek Carr in what could be a shootout and Fresno State has a quarterback who can throw the ball all over the park as well as a developing stud receiver in Davante Adams and a huge tight end in Marcel Jensen.

NFL Comparison

Benwikere might be a similar threat to that of Trumaine Johnson of the St. Louis Rams.  Johnson was used as a corner and safety at Wyoming before he finished his career at safety there.  For the Rams, he has been a safety but has been a corner and someone who can help inside at the nickel.  Benwikere has more ability to be an impact tackler but both players offer a good amount of versatility.

Draft Projection

On his highlights alone, Benwikere is one of the more impressive players in the country.  He can make plays all over the field from making an interception deep down the field to making a big time tackle in the backfield on an opposing running back.  On the whole, there is far too much inconsistency and valleys mixed in between thus far in his career.  For that reason, he is a fringe top 100 pick at this point but if he can get more consistent and play on a consistently high level, he could be one of the more intriguing defensive backs moving up the board in the 2014 NFL Draft.