2015 NFL DRAFT
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Fred Bennett

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 196 | College: South Carolina
 
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Overview

Fred Bennett provided desperately needed leadership to a defensive unit where he was the only 2005 starter to start more than half of his games in 2006. He played both cornerback positions and still managed to lead the team in pass deflections (11) and passes defensed (13) during his final campaign.

Super Prep rated the Manning High School product the fourth-best player in the state of South Carolina during his senior campaign. An All-Area and All-State choice, he also competed in the 2001 Shrine Bowl participant.

Bennett originally signed to attend South Carolina in 2002, choosing the university over scholarship offers from North Carolina and Clemson. But, he failed to qualify academically and spent the year at Hargrave Military Academy. He enrolled at South Carolina in 2003 and appeared mostly on special teams, coming up with eight solo tackles.

In 2004, Bennett took over strong-side cornerback duties, starting all eleven games. He posted 32 tackles (26 solos) with two stops for losses and a fumble recovery. He picked off four passes and deflected three others.

Shoulder problems kept Bennett out of spring drills, but he returned to start the first three games of the 2005 season on the weak-side, returning to strong-side cornerback for the final seven contests. He registered 31 tackles (23 solos) with a sack and a forced fumble. He blocked one kick, intercepted three passes and knocked down ten others, earning All-Southeastern Conference honorable mention.

As a senior, Bennett started all thirteen games. He made 37 tackles (26 solos) with a stop behind the line of scrimmage, picking up All-SEC second-team recognition. He led the team with eleven pass deflections and also intercepted a pair of passes.

In 48 games at South Carolina, Bennett started 33 contests (30 at strong-side, 3 at weak-side cornerback). He collected 108 tackles (83 solos) with a 6-yard sack and four stops for losses of 13 yards. He caused one fumble and returned a fumble recovery 35 yards. He had 24 pass deflections and nine interceptions for 43 yards in returns (4.8 avg). He also blocked one kick.

Analysis

Positives: Has adequate development in his upper body, but shows lean, muscular arms and decent leg thickness … Lacks ideal hip snap or a burst to close in a hurry, but shows good read and react ability to get into position and make the plays … More quick than fast, but keeps a close relationship with the receiver throughout route progression and uses his hands well to jam his opponent at the line of scrimmage … Showed improved ability to take needed angles in attempts to get to the ball … When he mirrors the receiver, he is very effective at giving his opponent a hand push without getting caught, in attempts to impede the receiver in the route … Needs backpedal refinement, as he shuffles too much, but has the balance in his pedal to stay on the inside hip of his opponent … Can sift through trash and locate secondary targets when playing in the zone … Good at anticipating the ball in flight … Once he reads and recognizes the play, he shows urgency to get to the pigskin … Adequate with his plant-&-drive, but needs to improve his burst … Better when playing on the 10-yard stop route than when covering the entire field … Times his leaps well and while he lacks natural hands, he has good timing and extension to knock the ball down … Takes short strides when closing and has the body control to adjust to off-target throws … Gets very good elevation to compete for the pass at its highest point … More of an ankle-bier as a tackler, but has the functional strength to bring his opponent down … Lacks bulk to form tackle, but is effective at taking ball carriers down when he attacks their legs … Confident enough in his timed speed to challenge receivers by giving a big cushion (best making plays in front of him rather than when his back is turned on the ball).

Negatives: Needs to add more upper body strength and bulk to his frame … Marginal wrap-up tackler who prefers to attack at the legs rather than face up … Too stiff in his hips to come out of his breaks cleanly … Has a good straight-ahead burst, but lacks range and change of direction agility (takes false steps) … Backpedal technique needs to be completely redesigned, as he prefers to shuffle and bail … more of a basket catcher who is prone to dropping the sure interception due to concentration lapses and an inability to field the ball with his fingers (most pass break-ups had the potential to be thefts instead, but he traps the ball too often) … Needs to be monitored in the training room (won't do the little extras) … Big liability in run support, as he gets locked up too long on blocks and lacks urgency to get into position to attack the ball carrier … Light on his feet, but takes time to change directions … Has a high-cut frame that prevents him from opening his hips and redirecting cleanly … Marginal open field tackler who seems to still be conscious of his 2005 shoulder surgery when getting into position to make the hit … Bites quite a bit on play action and pump fakes (best when playing the man rather than the ball) … Needs to play at a lower pad level in run support, as he is too narrow in his base to anchor and is quickly washed out of the play.

Compares To: LEIGH BODDEN-Cleveland … Bennett has excellent timed speed, but is a high-cut athlete with marginal hip snap. He needs to improve his upper body strength and show more courage in run support. His leaping ability is evident, as he will generally win jump ball battles, but his hands are not natural and most of his pass break-ups could have easily been interceptions if he didn't trap the ball so much. His speed will get him drafted much earlier than his production will. In this day and age, cornerbacks need to do more than just cover a receiver.

Career Notes

Bennett's 24 pass deflections rank fifth in school history behind Chris Major (43, 1983-86), Sheldon Brown (36, 1998-2001), Robert Robinson (33, 1985-88) and Rashad Faison (25, 1999-2002) … His eleven pass break-ups in 2006 rank sixth on the school's season-record list, topped only by Chris Major (17 in 1985), Sheldon Brown (15 in 2000 and 12 in 2001). Brad Edwards (13 in 1987) and Dunta Robinson (12 in 2003).

2006 Season

Named All-Southeastern Conference second-team by the league's coaches … Chosen the team's Outstanding Defensive Back … Started all thirteen games at strong-side cornerback, but also saw action on the weak-side … Made 37 tackles (26 solos) with a stop for a 4-yard loss … Led the team with a career-high eleven pass deflections … Gained 28 yards on a pair of interception returns … Missed most of the regular season finale match-up vs. Clemson when Bennett suffered a left hamstring pull warming up prior to the game … Of the 66 passes targeted into his area, 31 were caught for 422 yards (13.61 yards per completion/ 6.39 yards per pass attempt) and six touchdowns … Seventeen of those grabs were for ten yards or longer, including eight for more than 20 yards … Eighteen of those receptions produced first downs … Made nine third-down stops (8 vs. the pass) and had six tackles inside the red zone, including four on goal-line plays.

2006 Game Analysis

Mississippi State … Opened the season with a pair of solo tackles and intercepted a Tray Rutland pass at the SC 19, returning the ball 30 yards to set up a 47-yard field goal by Ryan Succop with 8:19 left in the game … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#14-Omarr Conner-Two catches for 21 yards (stopped Conner from getting to three other throws).

Georgia … Followed with three solo tackles and a pass break-up … Lost 2 yards on an interception, when he picked off a Mattew Stafford third-&-3 pass at the SC28 early in the second quarter … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#18-A.J. Bryant-Two catches for 20 yards.

Wofford … Made just two tackles and was caught out of position on Josh Collier's 25-yard scoring strike to Andy Strickland in a tight 27-20 South Carolina win … Bennett saved a potential touchdown, when he chased down Kevious Johnson on a 62-yard run, taking the tailback down at the SC4 midway through the second quarter … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#17-Andy Strickland-One catch for a 25-yard touchdown.

Florida Atlantic … Deflected two tackles and made one tackle on special teams … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#6-Franz Simeon-One catch for 5 yards (stopped Simeon from getting to three other passes).

Auburn … Added five tackles (4 solos) and batted away a first-&-goal pass thrown by Brandon Cox at the SC 8 that was intended for Courtney Taylor at the start of the second half … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#80-Rodgeriqus Smith-Two catches for 37 yards.

Kentucky … Broke up one pass and posted three tackles, but receiver Dicky Lyons beat Bennett to a 63-yard pass from Andre' Woodson and on the next play, Woodson hit Lyons with a game-winning 9-yard touchdown with 2:56 left in a 24-17 game … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#12-Dicky Lyons-Three catches for 79 yards and atouchdown (prevented Lyons from catching two other throws).

Vanderbilt … Batted away a pass and delivered four tackles, assisting Eric Norwood in stopping tailback Cassen Jackson-Garr for a 3-yard loss at the SC 8 on a first quarter second-&-goal run … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#10-Earl Bennett-Four catches for 16 yards (prevented Bennett from catching three other tosses).

Tennessee … Managed just two solo tackles … QB Erik Ainge caught Bennett out of position twice, finding Bret Smith with a 5-yard scoring lob in the first quarter and early in the fourth quarter, Ainge threw another screen pass that Smith snared for a 12-yard touch-down … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#9-Bret Smith-Four catches for 23 yards and two touchdowns.

Arkansas … Assisted on three tackles … Knocked down a second-&-goal toss by QB Casey Dick at the SC 14 at the start of the second quarter … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#1-Damian Williams-No catches.

Florida … Bennett had a game that he'd soon forget about, as he not only allowed a touch-down catch, but was penalized three times during the contest … Bennett was flagged for defensive holding on a Chris Leak pass to Dallas Baker four minutes into the game, but killed that 77-yard, 12-play drive by knocking down a third-&-12 pass before Baker could get to it at the SC 13. Florida attempted a 30-yard field goal, but the kick sailed wide left … Was penalized for pass interference on a Leak toss to Andre Caldwell at the start of the second quarter and flagged a third time at the start of the second half, when Bennett was caught executing an illegal block on a 3-yard interception return by the Gamecocks' Stoney Woodson … Leak's late second quarter deep pass sailed over Bennett into the hands of Dallas Baker for a 21-yard touchdown with 2:21 left in the first half … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#81-Dallas Baker-Four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Middle Tennessee … The following week, Bennett didn't even have a chance to get into rhythm, as QB Clint Marks caught the cornerback out of position and launched a 73-yard touchdown pass to Desmond Gee on the game's first play from scrimmage … Bennett had only one tackle, but deflected two passes, including a third-&-11 throw from Marks intended for Gee, forcing the Blue Raiders to punt on their second drive of the game … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-SB#2-Desmond Gee-One catch for a 73-yard touchdown (stopped Gee from catching three other throws).

Clemson … Bennett started, but left the game … He had suffered a left hamstring pull stretching prior to the game, but could not continue to play after the opening series.

Houston (Liberty Bowl) … Closed out his career with six tackles (4 solos), including one that dropped Perry McDaniel for a 4-yard loss on a screen pass from QB Kevin Kolb at the SC 30 at the start of the second quarter … Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#2-Donnie Avery-Seven catches for 72 yards (prevented Avery from getting to two other tosses).

2005 Season

Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference honorable mention … Limited in spring drills while recovering from off-season shoulder surgery … Started the first three games vs. Central Florida, Georgia and Alabama at weak-side cornerback, but was benched briefly for the Troy and Auburn clashes before returning to the lineup for the final seven games at his usual strong-side corner slot … Recorded 31 tackles (23 solos) with a 6-yard sack and a forced fumble … Deflected ten passes and intercepted three others … Also blocked a field goal, the first blocked kick of any kind by a Gamecock since the 2001 season.

2005 Game Analysis

Central Florida … Opened the season in fine fashion, sacking QB Steven Moffett for a 6-yard loss, causing a fumble on the play … Also intercepted a Moffett pass and produced four solo tackles.

Alabama and Florida … Delivered three tackles with a pass break-up in each game.

Troy … Intercepted a pass and deflected another while adding one solo tackle.

Kentucky and Arkansas … Registered four tackles in each contest.

Vanderbilt … Had just one solo tackle, but deflected a pair of passes and blocked a field goal attempt.

Tennessee … Followed with a season-high five tackles (4 solos).

Clemson … Posted three tackles (2 solos) and picked off a Charlie Whisehurst pass.

Missouri (Independence Bowl) … Deflected three of QB Brian Smith's passes and was in on a pair of tackles.

2004 Season

Started all eleven games at strong-side cornerback … Ranked seventh on the team with 32 tackles (26 solos) … Added two stops for losses of 3 yards and returned a fumble recovery 35 yards … Deflected three passes and gained 14 yards on four interception returns.

2004 GAME HIGHLIGHTS

Opened the season with eight tackles (6 solos) and a pass break-up vs. Vanderbilt … Added two solo tackles and had his first career interception vs. Troy … Followed with an assisted tackle and a pair of pass thefts in the Alabama clash … Recorded four solo tackles and returned a fumble 35 yards vs. Mississippi … Produced six solo tackles with a stop behind the line of scrimmage vs. Kentucky … Broke up one pass and delivered five tackles in the Tennessee game … Intercepted a pass vs. Florida.

2003 Season

Was the only true freshman on the team to appear in all twelve games … Saw action mostly on special teams, registering eight solo tackles … Had a season-high three stops in the Vanderbilt clash.

2002 Season

Originally signed a letter-of-intent to attend South Carolina, but enrolled at Hargrave (Chatham, Va.) Military Academy to improve his academics.

Injury Report

2005-Sat out most of spring drills while recovering from January shoulder surgery.

2006-Missed most of the Clemson game (11/25) when he pulled his left hamstring while stretching prior to the game.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.47 in the 40-yard dash … 300-pound bench press … 365-pound squat … 36-inch vertical jump … 4.25 20-yard shuttle.

Combine: 4.52 in the 40-yard dash … 1.62 10-yard dash … 2.68 20-yard dash … 4.3 20-yard shuttle …

1122 60-yard shuttle … 6.67 three-cone drill … 38.5-inch vertical jump … 10'5" broad jump … Bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times.

High School

Attended Manning (S.C.) High School, playing football for head coach Robbie Briggs … Was a 2001 Shrine Bowl participant … Rated the fourth-best prospect in the state of South Carolina according to Super Prep.

Personal

Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management major … Born Fredrick Bennett on 12/3183 … Resides in Manning, South Carolina.

 
 
 

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