New head coach Sean Payton seems to have a craving for University of Iowa defenders, for after he drafted defensive back Riley Moss in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, he would then reach back into the Hawkeye pool to sign his teammate, linebacker Seth Benson, to a free agent contract.
A former Gatorade player of the year in his home state of South Dakota, not exactly known as a football star production factory, Benson would capitalize on that accolade to earn a scholarship to Iowa in 2018.
He would ultimately see minimal action in 2019 before becoming a staple in the Hawkeye defense between 2020 and 2022, earning Academic All-Big Ten in each of those three seasons. He also earned the “Team Hustle” award in 2021 and has been regarded for his leadership abilities and mental toughness.
A former two-star recruit turned Big Ten playmaker, he hopes to make that same Cinderella story in the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent for the Broncos.
Weight: 231 pounds
Arm Length: N/A
Experience: Rookie season
Benson finished his senior season at Iowa accumulating 91 tackles (42 solo), one sack, and one interception. His best game came against then #4 Michigan where he tallied 14 tackles, six solo, and he would ultimately be named second-team All-Big Ten by league coaches and media.
Broncos linebacker Seth Benson’s 2023 outlook
It’s impossible to expect an undrafted rookie to make a significant impact as a linebacker when the position is currently occupied by incumbents Alex Singleton and Josey Jewell with rookie third-round pick Drew Sanders waiting in the wings.
However, beyond 2023 may have bigger plans in store for Benson. He’s not the biggest guy at just 6-0, 231 lbs, something that surely did not bode well for him with NFL scouts. Yet, he has grit, moxie, leadership abilities, and a constant motor to get better that could very well push him beyond his potential and into a featured role in the NFL.
The Broncos are no stranger to undrafted success stories at the linebacker position, with Singleton being one and former linebacker Alexander Johnson being another. And there’s no guarantee Jewell and Singleton will be long-term solutions at the position, so Benson, who at most will have to make his mark on special teams to start, may have a an opening in the near future if he proves himself.
Benson will be a fun story to follow.
He’s essentially a real-life Rudy in some regards. He’s shorter than the average NFL linebacker, lighter than the average NFL linebacker, and slower than the average NFL linebacker.
His lacking in these areas are what caused him to not appear on most draft boards.
However, his discipline, leadership, technique despite his physical limitations, and his work ethic earned him All-Big Ten honors and a tryout with the Denver Broncos.
This is a guy who had exactly one division one offer out of high school and turned into one of the most productive players at that school over his time there.
There is little doubt he will possess the drive and attitude to try and perform the same feat at the highest professional level, but the question will ultimately be, can his determination and intangibles beat out his perceived physical limitations?