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Wisconsin Football: Keeanu Benton Selected In 2nd Round of NFL Draft



Wisconsin football alumnus Keeanu Benton

The big man up the middle for Wisconsin football has found a home in the National Football League. Selected 49th overall, Keeanu Benton is joining the Pittsburgh Steelers.

READ MORE: Wisconsin Football Alum Keeanu Benton NFL Draft Profile

Benton, along with fellow NFL Draft prospect Nick Herbig, were the core of the Badgers pass rush in 2022. Last season, the former three-star recruit racked up 35 tackles, 28 pressures, ten tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. It was the nose tackle’s most productive season on the stat sheet since his arrival at UW in 2019. Benton finished with the Wisconsin Badgers third-highest pass-rushing grade (83.6), trailing only linebackers Maema Njongmeta and Nick Herbig, according to Pro Football Focus.

Wisconsin football alumnus Keeanu Benton at the NFL Combine

Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin defensive lineman Keeanu Benton (DL01) participates in the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Janesville native received third-team All-Big Ten honors as a coaches selection in 2022. Some considered that selection to underrate Benton’s abilities. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound lineman, however, increased his draft stock with impressive showings at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.

Keanu Benton Joins Former Wisconsin Badgers on Pittsburgh Steelers

Keeanu Benton joins a Pittsburgh Steelers roster that is already littered with Wisconsin Football alumni:

  • TJ Watt was at UW 2013-2016. He was selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Derek Watt joined the Badgers in 2011 before being selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. TJ’s older brother joined him on the Steelers in 2020 but is currently a free agent after his contract expired following the 2022 season.
  • Isaiahh Loudermilk spent four seasons with Wisconsin football beginning in 2016. The former three-star recruit was selected by Pittsburgh in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
  • Scott Nelson enrolled at UW in 2017. After being named an All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2021, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Seattle Seahawks in 2022. He was released by Seattle in September and signed with the Steelers to their practice squad just a week later.

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Kedrick Stumbris covers Wisconsin football, basketball, hockey, and volleyball. He received his B.A. with economics and political science majors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018 and has had his work published on Bleacher Report and Verbal Commits.