LSU has of late churned out a slew of talented defensive linemen. In fact, they have usually been so deep at the position that even their most talented layers have been part of a rotation. While this serves to keep players fresh, it doesn't help them pile up impressive statistics. As a result, D-linemen like Bennie Logan can get a bit lost in the shuffle. In 2011, he lined up next to eventual first-rounder Michael Brockers; in 2012, he was overshadowed by the Tigers' dynamic duo of Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. Yet, in both season, Logan was quietly the Tigers' most consistent defensive lineman.
In no small part due to this depth, Logan's collegiate career started slowly. He redshirted in 2009 and played just three games in 2010, posting a paltry five tackles. Over those two years, he gained the 30 pounds he needed to compete in the ultra-competitive SEC, yet managed to maintain his athleticism. In 2011, he exploded, using his increased bulk and maintained athleticism to rack up 57 tackles (6.5 for loss) and three quarterback bags, and outperforming his linemate, Brockers. What's more, Logan saved his best for last; in the BCS title game, he racked up six tackles (1.5 for loss) and added a sack.
In 2012, now the focus of other teams game plans, Logan's stats fell off a bit. He totaled 45 tackles, with 5.5 for loss, and two sacks. Still, this production was enough to earn him Second Team All-SEC honors. And the best may yet be on the horizon; Logan is the kind of under-utilized collegian (not unlike Jay Ratliff) who is likely to be a better NFL than NCAA player. He certainly looks the part: Logan is built like a prototypical three-technique, and he's highly athletic, with a wide frame and excellent lateral quickness to step into a gap and penetrate into a rival backfield.
But don't just take my word for it; look at the tape. Here he is in 2012 against Ole Miss; here, in one video, we see him versus Alabama and Mississippi State. Not enough? Well, then, lets see what our collocation of draft pundits have to say about Logan. Read on, brave BTBers, and ye shall be enlightened!
ESPN/ Scouts, Inc. (Gary Horton): 11th-rated DT; 77th overall
Versus the run: Not a massive space-eater. Will fight hard vs. double team but rarely is able to hold ground or split. Lacks lead in trunk. Will never be a good two-gap defender in NFL. However, he fires out low, shows adequate-to-good initial pop, and has strong hands and long arms to lock out. Strength of his game is his combination of awareness and disengagement skills. Does a very good job of keeping eyes up and locating the football. Has quick, strong hands to get off blocks. Has above average range versus the run. Closes quickly for his size and can be an explosive tackler. Man handles ball carriers on a consistent basis.
Pass rush skills: Work in progress. Impressive natural athleticism for position and has some upside in this department. Flashes ability to turn speed-to-power as a pass rusher but still trying to figure out where to go from there. Very quick hands. Lacks a plan as a pass rusher at times, though. Content with bull rush too often. Needs to improve array of pass-rush moves. Does display awareness as a pass rusher and will do a good job of maintaining gap-discipline when defensive game-plan is to limit mobile QBs rushing opportunities.
Quickness (hands/ feet): Lacks elite get-off burst and is surprisingly slow-starter on stunts, twists. But displays better than average overall lateral agility and change-of-direction skills once body is in motion. Very quick hands and uses them effectively to keep blockers off his body and to disengage vs. run. Needs to refine rip, slap and push-pull moves as a pass rusher but has the quick hands to do so.
Toughness/ Motor: Average toughness. Shows discipline with snap awareness. Will pursue and make some plays outside tackle box when he's fresh. But he mails it in more often than expected given his reputation as such a hard worker and team leader. It's obvious when he gets tired. He will be late getting hand in dirt, late getting off the ball, and then it will look like he has a union deal going with the offensive lineman blocking him. Needs to improve stamina in order to cut down on number of wasted reps.
Intangibles: Outstanding football character. Earned right to wear prestigious No. 18 as a junior in 2012. Tradition goes back to QB Matt Mauck, who wore No. 18 during 2003 national title run. Jersey is handed down to a player best representing what it means to be a Tiger on and off the field. Coordinator John Chavis on Logan: 'It's important to help your young guys learn how to practice, and leadership is not just in the games. It's every day. It's every minute you're on the field, and when you've got a guy like Bennie Logan in your room, he's going to set the tempo'. Son of Sandra Logan and Bennie Frost. Has seven siblings.
CBSSports.com (Rob Rang): 13th-rated DT; 152nd overall
Strengths: Possesses a stout frame, thick lower-half and long, strong arms. Flashes a quick burst off the snap to slip through gaps. Possesses good upper-body strength, demonstrating the functional strength to bull-rush guards and centers deep into the pocket before ripping himself free to pursue the quarterback. Flashes the explosive upper-body strength to shed blocks quickly and latch onto backs as they attempt to run past. Occasionally will use an arm-over swim move with some effectiveness. Good lateral agility to "play the keys" and pursue down the line of scrimmage. Good hustle laterally and even for up to 10 yards downfield, earning the right to wear No. 18.
Weaknesses: Didn't take the step in his development in 2012 that scouts had hoped to see from him. Doesn't use his swim move often enough, simply resorting to his bull-rush, which decreases in effectiveness as he tires and loses his pad level. Gets caught up in the hand to hand combat at the line of scrimmage and loses track of the ball.
Plays with a high-motor but too often relies on his effort to make plays when his initial burst or push doesn't work, showing few complementary moves for a player with his experience. Frequently is substituted as part of LSU's rotation, which raises concerns about his readiness to play consistent snaps against even better competition in the NFL.
Compares to: Brodrick Bunkley, DT, New Orleans Saints -- Just as it was for Bunkley when leaving Florida State seven years ago, the talent is in Logan to develop into a legitimate NFL starter and perhaps even turn into a standout. To do so, however, he'll need to develop a greater array of pass rush moves. Otherwise, his strength and effort should be enough to help him carve out a niche as a solid run-stuffing presence in the middle.
Pro Football Weekly (Nolan Nawrocki): 13th-rated DT; 146th overall
Positives: Good size, movement skills and leverage. Long arms - extends, controls and locates. Active hands. Shows strength and timing to discard blocks and grab ballcarriers. Plays with awareness. Consistent energy. Nice range for a 300-pounder. Flashes quick get-off. Pass-rush potential. Desirable personal and football character.
Negatives: Average bulk. Needs to get stronger - could stand to resculpt some bad weight (nearly 26 percent body fat). Inconsistent get-off. Shows in flashes but does not dominate. Can do a better job protecting his legs. Gets washed down the line when pads rise. Still learning how to generate power. Struggles to beat a double team. Still developing bag of tricks as rusher.
Summary: Might not have the flash or acclaim of some recent Tigers DTs but is on the upswing and should develop into a solid, three-down, 4-3 plugger. Could take his game to another level if he makes strides as a rusher, and dependable intangibles increase confidence he'll reach his ceiling.
National Football Post (Russ Lande): 16th-rated DT; 164th overall
Strengths: Consistently the first defensive lineman moving at the snap, he has the initial quickness to get into gaps to disrupt plays. His initial quickness also helps him to get his hands on offensive lineman before they are set, so he can jolt them. Quick hands and long arms enable Logan to jolt and defeat offensive line run blocks and he has the burst to the ball carrier to finish the tackle. When offenses try to pull the linemen over him and he reads the play correctly, he can get inside backside "reach block," keeps blocker on his back and chases down play in pursuit. Although he lacks a variety of pass rush moves, he does flash the ability to jolt and defeat pass blocker with a quick arm-over move. .
Weaknesses: Other than his first step initial quickness, Logan does not display quick twitch athleticism any other time, which limits his overall production. He has a bad habit of getting upright and high when he fires off the ball and if he does not jolt man with hard punch initially, he can be tied up and eliminated from the play too easily. He does not take on in-line run blocks with base/leverage and can be ridden out of the play too easily. Lacks versatility as a pass rusher and has not real secondary pass rush moves if his initial charge is stopped. Not naturally instinctive, Logan often seems a beat late identifying the play and getting started in the direction of the ball carrier.
Summary: An underclassmen who came out early for the Draft, Logan really disappointed me when I evaluated the film. Although he is consistently the first defensive linemen moving at the snap and threatens the ability to get gap penetration, too often he loses leverage while bursting off the ball, which allows offensive lineman to get their hands on him to tie up and eliminate him from the play. I find it surprising that despite being surrounded by numerous players who will be high NFL draft picks, Logan was not able to consistently defeat one on one blocks to be an impact player. Overall, I think Logan will be drafted much higher than I have him rated, but I think he is a middle round prospect who needs to improve in the areas mentioned above to become more than a backup defensive tackle.
Other than Horton, these scouting types place Logan in a pretty tight range, between 146 and 164. This would make him a fifth rounder, and place him squarely in the spot where the Cowboys hold pick number 151. That said, Horton's evaluation reminds us that it only takes one team to boost a guys draft status - and I think Logan will appeal to franchises like the Seahawks, Cowboys who value undersized players capable of using quickness to penetrate and disrupt. Logan has ideal quickness, athleticism and flexibility to be an effective interior rusher from the 3-technique spot in just such a system. As a result, I'm giving him a third-round grade on my 2013 "little board."
Although he's undersized and power is not a key part of his game, Logan appears to possess some other qualities that the Cowboys might value more. First, he's got good initial quickness and flashes the ability to be an effective one-gapper, both core attributes for defensive linemen in Monte Kiffin's 4-3 "under" scheme. Second, he's an "RKG"; as you can plainly see in the header image, he proudly sports Number 18, which is given to the LSU player who best represents what it means to be a Tiger both on and off the field.
Although he didn't appear to have as successful a junior season as most observers hoped he might, Logan has been highly productive and seems to have a lot of the traits that characterize successful players. Although I'm not sure he can be an immediate starter, I wouldn't mind seeing him as part of a 90s-style defensive line rotation. Not one bit.
Next up: Penn State defensive tackle Jordan Hill