A highly regarded prep prospect, Benavides elected to sign with Louisville despite playing his prep ball in Texas and has proven a star since, earning Freshman All-American honors in 2009 and All-Big East recognition after each of the past three seasons.
While dominant against Big East competition and a contributor to Louisville's stunning Sugar Bowl victory over Florida, Benavides' lack of power and sustained quickness may have been exposed against the SEC defense. Zone-blocking teams will value Benavides' quickness, intelligence and toughness but he isn't a player without warts, especially concerning his medical history.
Benavides' ultimate pro grade could be determined by his medical, as he's played through some tough injuries over his career, including a knee injury last year that sidelined him for the first three games of the 2011 season. He did end his career showing greater durability, starting all 13 games of his senior campaign and 47 games over his career.
WEAKNESSES: Struggled against power when pitted against bigger, more physical defenders. Gets by on guile, toughness, leverage and hand play but might be maxed out. Too often makes it to the second level only to see defenders beat him to the punch. Has fought through various injuries throughout his career (staph infection, MCL tear, among them), which will need to be checked out by NFL teams.
COMPARES TO: A.Q. Shipley, OC, Indianapolis Colts -- Just as Shipley proved while at Penn State, Benavides has proven to be a tough, reliable center at Louisville capable of getting by despite less than ideal physical traits. Like Shipley (drafted by the Steelers in 2009, signed by Eagles a year later but didn't make a roster until latching on with the Colts in 2012), Benavides could have a hard time making a team despite his smarts, quickness and intangibles.