STRENGTHS: Good play speed with fast, aggressive pursuit angles. The switch is always flipped on the field, displaying a motor that never quits and chasing down plays he has no business being involved in. Smart, instinctive player who read/reacts well, breaking down well on the move. Locks onto his target quickly and doesn't make many mistakes. Physical wrap-up tackler and throws his body around with toughness to take the punishment. Plays pissed off with a chip and violent, competitive nature. Floats well in coverage to jump passes and get his hands on the ball (eight passes defended, four interceptions in his career). Experienced with man coverage responsibilities and was often the only linebacker on the field, rarely leaving the field. Physical downhill blitzer. Try-hard motor and leaves it all out on the field with resilient mentality. Handled adversity with a handful of different coaches in his four seasons at Kansas (9-39 record over that stretch).
Productive career -- led the Jayhawks in tackles each of the past three seasons, and led the NCAA in solo tackles in 2014 with 7.3 per game.
WEAKNESSES: Undersized with a maxed-out build and short arms. Limited athlete and tight in space, lacking easy fluidity to quickly recover after false steps. Plays fast, but straight-linish and needs to stop and collect himself changing directions. Hits too high at times and will slide off ballcarriers. Needs to improve his discipline to better balance his nonstop movements with his ball awareness. Overaggressive angles and will misjudge speed of ballcarriers at times. Shows body stiffness in coverage and struggles to find the ball once his back is turned to the line of scrimmage. Needs to improve his technique to better stack-and-shed and work his way through the trash.
Heeney had virtually no experience at linebacker in high school and didn't get much instruction there as a freshman, but the new coaching staff saw his potential and he flourished as a three-year starter, leading the Jayhawks in tackles each season. He lacks ideal NFL size and length, but leaves it all on the field and thrives on instincts, playing with a throwback, fierce style. There is a lot to like about Heeney with his play speed and read/react skills to be a hunter, but the body stiffness and average athleticism limit his next level upside.
A three-star LB recruit out of high school, Heeney received only two FBS-level scholarship offers (Kansas and Colorado State), but fortunately one was the Jayhawks, his dream school and where his father and two uncles played baseball. A running back in high school, he didn't see the field much as a true freshman, but earned the starting MLB job as a sophomore in 2012 and led the team in tackles (112), earning Second Team All-Big 12 honors. Heeney missed two games due to injury (knee) in 2013, but still led the team in stops (88) and again took home Second Team All-Big 12 honors. He had his best statistical season in 2014 as a senior, finishing with 127 total tackles and 12.0 tackles for loss, earning First Team All-Big 12 honors.
02/24/2015 - 2015 NFL Combine, 25 Takeaways: Five Players Sending Us Back to the Tape: Ben Heeney, ILB, Kansas: Heeney was often characterized as a "try-hard" type with limited athleticism despite earning consensus First Team All-Big 12 honors this past season with 127 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss. After ranking among the swiftest inside linebackers tested this year in the 40-yard dash (4.59), short shuttle (4.00) and 3 cone drill (6.68), however, the 6-0, 231 pounder may have tackled himself a draft selection. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com