I remember looking over the fast linebackers group last year. Lavonte David had outstanding tape. Mychal Kendricks’ closing speed was a blur. Zach Brown wasn’t very good on tape, but he had elite speed for his size. The one player that didn’t stand out at all was Bobby Wagner. I almost didn’t cover him that year. Yet when I watched Wagner, something in the back of my mind just screamed “Seahawks” to me. Trusting that instinct, I rated Wagner very highly for Seattle days before the 2012 draft for Seattle despite having him just 7th on my personal list.
What struck me about Wagner was how he played so conservatively, yet he had the tools to excel as a more aggressive player. When Seattle drafted him, I thought that he might be the Earl Thomas of our front seven. And that’s basically what he was- more of a protector than a playmaker- though he finished with a flurry of interceptions near the end of the season- including one that was infamously cancelled out by Earl Thomas.
Now it’s kind of dumb to talk about a stab in the dark that went right, much less try to build off of it. This story is really just an excuse to use a fun segue- that being how I’m getting this strange sense of certainty again. If there is a Bobby Wagner candidate for me this year, it’s Bennie Logan.
Like Wagner, Bennie Logan has some of the most uninspiring tape of any notable draft prospect this year. He posted weak statistics and even in his best games he never really dominated. Yet like Wagner, I have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that Logan is going to be a Seahawk. Now I just have to figure out why.
I’ll get to the actual scouting report shortly, but the first thing I have to mention about Logan is that, like Sylvester Williams, his value comes from his athleticism and speed in a 300+ pound body. Logan moves like a 280 pound defensive tackle at 309. There was some hype for Logan pre-combine as he was expected to put on a show. Unfortunately for Logan, that didn’t really happen. He abstained from the 40 yard dash, and the rest of his measurements ranged from 50th to 75th percentile. It wasn’t a bad combine, but it wasn’t quite what people were expecting based on the athleticism he showed on tape. LSU’s pro-day starts later today and extends through Friday, so hopefully we’ll get some idea of Logan’s speed pretty soon.
Who knows what NFL big boards say, but in media circles it feels as if Logan’s draft stock has slowly drifted in recent months- from late 1st round to late 2nd round. If actual big boards reflect that decline, that obviously puts Logan into serious consideration at #56.
Logan has a lot of core strength and it shows both against the run and in the pass rush. This helps his case to Seattle even more, since the Seahawks biggest need is a run stuffing 3-tech that can also blossom into a quality pass rusher.
Logan had just two sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss last season on college football’s pro-bowl team of underachieving individuals. Sam Montgomery has the look of a 1st round pick physically, but didn’t work hard and didn’t produce. Barkevious Mingo can dart, but he struggled to dart into quarterbacks. When I watch Kevin Minter I see more mistakes than great plays. Lavar Edwards has intriguing measurables, but never really made his mark on that defense as a rotational player. Bennie Logan looks like a future NFL player, maybe a good one, but he didn’t produce.
The only big positive for Logan in terms of production are his tackle numbers. Playing next to Michael Brockers in 2011, Logan managed 57 tackles, a very high number for his position. He added 45 more last season. Tackles are a tricky stat, but having watched Logan, I interpret these numbers as a way of showing how good Logan is at remaining involved in plays and also how well he defends gaps. Logan only had five sacks the past two seasons, although consider that Brockers had just two sacks in his last two years. Brockers then posted a very respectable four sacks as a rookie in St. Louis.
A couple problems for Logan: He has good arm length with his 34″ arms but doesn’t really use them, typically going chest to chest with blockers much like Shariff Floyd does. As a result, Logan really struggles to break into the backfield. Rather than attempt to shed blocks, Logan tries to use leverage and a quick first step to power through blockers. If all you want is a guy that can push the pocket but not much else in the pass rush, Logan could be worth it- but he’s a long ways from being a star pass rusher. His other problem is that like Brandon Williams he is surprisingly weak against the run despite his size and strength. He typically gets blown back by double teams and rarely dominates against single run blocks. His habit of dropping his head for leverage can sometimes cause him to blow gap responsibility too. He has the talent to be very good against the run, but it will require some coaching up.
Logan has all the tools to be a successful all-around 3-tech in the NFL which is exactly what Seattle needs the most right now. He was awarded the number 18 jersey last season as recognition for being the hardest working member of the team, an LSU tradition that dates back to 2003. Logan hustles to the ball and plays smart- taking good angles and knowing when to reach up for batted passes. It’s hard to bet against a guy who pairs excellent tools with a great work ethic- even if his tape hardly flatters. He’s got his issues and truth be told, there are a lot of tackles I’d take over him. But like Wagner last year, something tells me that Seattle will like Bennie Logan a lot more than I do. Call it a hunch.
(note: Bennie Logan wore #93 in 2011)