Eno Benjamin to the Cardinals: A Backup to Stash
Benjamin was a two-year starter for the Sun Devils and was terrifically productive in those seasons, amassing 2,725 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns on 553 carries. Perhaps even more important was his receiving production in that time -- he added another 610 yards and 4 scores on 77 receptions. His 14.4% college target share ranks in the 94th-percentile at the running back position and sets him up as one of the best pass-catchers at the position in this year's draft class.
Benjamin is a tackle-breaking machine. Per Sports Info Solutions, he broke a tackle on 26% of his carries in 2019, the fourth-highest rate in the class. Elusiveness has been found to be one of the stickiest metrics when projecting players from college ball to the NFL game, and Benjamin's contact balance and ability to stay on his feet is among the best in the class.
At 5'9," he may be on the shorter side, but at 207 pounds, his BMI of 30.6 puts him in the 59th-percentile at the running back position -- plenty high enough for an NFL running back. He's got plenty of fight in him, too -- just check out this clip of him blocking a defender practically out of the stadium. Plays like that can help players stick around on depth charts long enough to get a real opportunity, and given Eno's production profile, he could potentially make the most of that opportunity.
His size certainly didn't stop him from being his team's bell cow, with 16 games of 20 or more carries over the past two seasons, and he joins Jonathan Taylor and Malcolm Perry as one of three backs in this draft class to post a 300-rushing-yard game.
With a 4.57-second 40-yard dash time, Benjamin isn't a burner. But he does possess an 87th-percentile burst score that helps him accelerate through any holes the offensive line opens up. We saw last year with David Montgomery how slower, tackle-breaking running backs can struggle to produce efficiently at the next level, but Benjamin's burst should help him avoid getting stifled at the line of scrimmage like Montgomery frequently was last season.
As of this writing, Benjamin should slot in nicely as the Cardinals' RB3 heading into the 2020 season. Kenyan Drake enjoyed a breakout season after the team traded for him earlier in the season, and Chase Edmonds has shown flashes of being a capable NFL running back behind him. The team needed additional depth at the position after trading David Johnson to the Houston Texans earlier this offseason, and Benjamin should be able to fill that hole while providing healthy competition on the depth chart.
Arizona's offense proved to be one of the most desirable situations for running backs in 2019 despite fielding PFF's fourth-worst run-blocking offensive line. First-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury managed to spread things out enough for his running backs, enabling them to find success even behind a faulty line.
Benjamin certainly has an uphill battle ahead of him as a seventh-round pick, but he arguably couldn't ask for a better landing spot on one of the league's top rushing attacks and on a relatively thin depth chart. He proved himself to be a reliable ball carrier in his two years as a starter with the Arizona Sun Devils and was a top-notch pass-catcher out of the backfield. He likely won't find the field much in 2020, but if he sticks around in Arizona, he could be well worth a late-round pick in dynasty rookie drafts this year.