Raiders GM Dave Ziegler selects CB Jakorian Bennett at 104

Grading 2023 Raiders Draft Class: If you don’t know who Jakorian Bennett is, you’re about to

Since the start of the offseason, Raider Nation has pounded the table for a cornerback. Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon became a fan-favorite, and with the Raiders holding the seventh-overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the pairing seemed like a real possibility. Even general manager Dave Ziegler held Witherspoon in high regard, as NBC’s Peter King noted during his time in the Raiders’ war room on draft night. Of course, Witherspoon would go to Seattle at five, forcing the Raiders to cross him off their board.

The team did eventually get their cornerback, though. In the fourth-round, at pick 104, the Silver and Black welcomed Maryland cornerback Jakorian Bennett to Las Vegas.

For many fans, Bennett wasn’t exactly who they had in mind when hoping for a cornerback. When you have your sights set on a corner at seven, ‘settling’ for one at 104-overall can feel disappointing – to say the least. However, if you’re familiar with Jakorian Bennett’s game, you were likely surprised he was available that late. And, once the Raiders selected him, you were likely ecstatic.

If you aren’t familiar with Bennett’s game, you’re about to be.

Introducing: Jakorian Bennett – the Raiders’ rookie cornerback

Four cornerbacks were selected within the first 24 picks of this year’s draft. Witherspoon went first, followed by Emmanuel Forbes, Christian Gonzalez, and Bennett’s more-popular teammate Deonte Banks.

Banks allowed a completion percentage of under 44.5% (43.3%), surrendering less than 310 yards (258) on less than 27 receptions (26). At the Combine, Banks showed off his athletic ability by posting a 4.35 40-time. On draft day, the New York Giants grabbed him with their first-round pick. Later on, at 104, the Raiders selected Banks’ counterpart, Jakorian Bennett.

With those numbers listed above, it’s no surprise a team fell in love with Banks. Raider Nation; what if I told you that Bennett matched all of those numbers, and more?

Not only was Jakorian’s 44.4 completion percentage less than 44.5%, like his partner, but his 309 yards allowed also fell south of 310. Quarterbacks completed only 24 passes when looking Bennett’s way; a number less than 27, the same as his counterpart. While Banks ran a 4.35 40, Bennett was clocked at 4.3 flat.

The biggest difference between the pair is the quarterback rating they allowed, calculated by Pro Football Focus.

Per the outlet, Banks held opposing QBs to a rating of 71.4. A big reason for this was the four touchdowns he was credited for giving up, despite his incredible numbers which included 13 pass breakups. Bennett, on the other hand, allowed zero touchdowns while breaking up nine passes. This gave the Raiders’ rookie a passer rating of 47.5 when targeted in 2022.

Bennett shows his ball skills against new teammate Aiden O’Connell

The numbers are impressive when it comes to Jakorian Bennett. So is the film.

Against Purdue’s Aiden O’Connell, who Dave Ziegler also selected in this year’s draft, Bennett was at his best. Deep or short, inside or outside, the Maryland cornerback was ready for everything O’Connell threw at him – literally.

Here’s a ball thrown 30 yards downfield in the back of the end zone. Bennett is tested deep, and comes up victorious against a well-thrown ball on a 50-50 play.

When you start to watch the film, it becomes clear how Bennett posted such phenomenal numbers. Between his ball-skills and awareness, it’s hard to catch the 22-year-old unprepared.

Above, we saw him flash his ball-skills. Now, we take a look at Jakorian Bennett’s awareness.

O’Connell is looking for the safe throw, but misses the mark ever-so-slightly. Bennett is quickly able to process this, and comes away with an interception.

On this play, Bennett is tested on the outside. It doesn’t matter; he takes field position on his man and never gives it back.

Tell the truth – if you only saw the latter-half of that clip, who would you think the receiver was? Bennett’s awareness and fluidness makes you think the ball was supposed to go to him at times.

The grade

All things considered, this pick feels like a home run. Not a double or a triple – a home run. From his coverage abilities to his freakish athleticism, it’s hard to imagine Bennett doesn’t contribute positively to the Raiders in some magnitude. It took longer than most fans wanted, but Dave Ziegler landed a fantastic football player to bolster the Raiders’ cornerback room.

Grade: A+

*Top Photo: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On The Ray-Dar: A Las Vegas Raiders Draft Digest Looking At Best, Worst Picks

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