Best Available WRs this Draft Class

By Paul M. Banks

A rather thin group, I included the TEs here and forecasted where they might go.

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Arrelious ‘Rejus’ Benn Declares Early for NFL Draft

Penn St Illinois Football

By Paul M. Banks

“Today, I am announcing that I will forgo my senior season and enter the NFL Draft,” said Arrelious Benn (who is projected as the #1 or #2 wide receiver on most draft boards). His press conference came at 2 pm CT today. “It’s a great milestone, a great thing to do, and I feel I’m ready to do it.”

Rejus’ press conference included a lot of expressing gratitude, similar to an award acceptance speech.

“Being a student here at the University has been everything I thought it could be. I want to thank Coach Zook for that…I especially want to thank my Mom for being here, and pushing me to be the best that I could be.”

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Is Arrelious Benn Jumping to the NFL?

ArreliousBenn

By Paul M. Banks

NFL Mock Drafts everywhere have University of Illinois junior wide receiver Arrelious “Rejus” Benn as a first round prospect. ESPN’s Draft Czar Mel Kiper rates Benn the #2 wideout in the nation on his list of NFL Draft WR prospects. So he’s certain to forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft, right?

“That’s a decision I will probably make down the road, I’m not sure as to what I’m going to do,” Benn said following the final game of his junior season, a heart-breaking last second 53-52 loss to Fresno. Benn was arcane when probed by the media about his returning for his final year of eligibility: “It doesn’t matter when I go, the NFL is gonna be there. College is still here if I stay and get my degree…whatever I want to do.”

Benn finishes his career fourth in school history in receptions and all-purpose yards, and sixth in receiving yards. He has a first team all conference season, and a thousand yard year on his resume. So on the outside it seems like a no-brainer for him to go, right?

“Yeah…anyone would think that, but I’ve still got to think about it,” Benn replied. One factor Benn’s considering in his equation is his education, and he’s close to completing his degree . “I’m very close, since I graduated high school early to come here (and enroll in the spring and participate in spring practices).”

As most players will tell you, Benn says he stays away from looking at NFL Mock Drafts and NFL draft player and position rankings. “I don’t read it, because it’s placed by numbers. That stuff doesn’t really matter when it comes to being drafted. That’s just college football talk,” Benn said.

It might be safe to say that Benn’s draft stock was higher in August than it is now, as his team’s 3-9 record, the massive struggles the Illini had at the quarterback position (and sometimes in the offense overall) affecting his final season numbers and getting hurt a couple times might push him more towards pursuing that pro career.

“Injuries still happen, and I had small, minor injuries, but I still got in all the snaps in all the games that I could. That’s not something that I’m concerned about. That’s just football, and I expect that I’ve got the type of body that is durable for it.”

NFL scouts will indeed drool over Benn’s physical gifts, which are apparent on sight. And he should have an impressive combine; which would obviously send his stock back up. Another factor of interest is the NFL likely not having a salary cap next year. The collective bargaining agreement has expired, and unless they get a new one in place for 2010, player salaries, including those of draft picks, could skyrocket. So even in the unlikely event that Benn falls out of the first round, the NFL money may be too much to pass up.

In this game of “should I stay or should I go now?” (apologies to the Britpunk band The Clash) Benn also did not indicate which way he was leaning. “Nah, I’m not leaning toward any kind of way right now,” he said.

But either way, expect an answer by the holidays. “I’m finishing up finals, and after that I’ll probably make the decision. You know there’s a lot to think about, and I’ve got a supporting cast behind me, when I come up with a decision, I’m gonna do it.”

What Happened to Arrelious Rejus Benn?

Penn St Illinois Football

By Paul M. Banks

You may have heard of a stellar University of Illinois wide receiver named Arrelious Benn, but the people really close to him call him Rejus. “It’s a nickname that started when I was younger, my father’s nickname was Redus and his real name was Arrelious, so I’m named after him,” Benn said. No word yet if anyone in Rejus’s family is named Kathie Lee (thanks I just got in from Chicago and boy are my arms tired). Rejus had a 3-yd touchdown run on Saturday in the Illini’s amazingly unexpected 38-14 shocker. We haven’t heard his name called much this season.

Benn began the season with a lot of hype, but hasn’t seen the spotlight much this fall because his team has struggled to a 2-6 record. He hasn’t had the best season, but he did begin the 2009 campaign with many preseason accolades including:

•    Maxwell Award Candidate
•    Biletnikoff Award Candidate
•    Named Big Ten’s Fastest Receiver (The Sporting News)
•    Rated the No. 20 player in the nation (The Sporting News)
•    Rated the No. 1 wide receiver in the Big Ten (The Sporting News)

He still has a chance to turn it around and live up to his billing, as Illinois’ schedule extends much longer this season. The team concludes on December 5th when they host Fresno St. “I’m the kind of guy who likes to go out there in the cold and sweat. Get covered with scarves around my arm, I like just going out there and playing the game, and I hope it snows,” Benn said about the Illini’s unorthodox schedule.

Benn began this season projected as a top ten, maybe even top 5 NFL Draft pick in 2010, but that stock fell as the team’s QB play struggled this season. As a consequence, Benn’s numbers have been anything but impressive.

But Benn’s physical gifts, and his body of work from his first two college seasons make still make him a prime prospect in the eyes of NFL scouts. Rejus has mid 4.4 speed, but still includes speed in his list of what he feels he needs to improve upon; which is pretty much everything: route-running, pass-catching, the whole package as he puts it. So what about his greatest strength? “For me to be able to do all the things I can do, at my size, I’m not your typical receiver,” Rejus answered. And his game has drawn comparisons to one of the best in the business right now. “For me to labeled as the next Anquan Boldin would be a tremendous complement.”

Obviously, this prompts the question of whether he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft next off-season. When asked about all the people who assume he’s done with college after this year, Benn said

“The media just does their job. That decision is for later down the road. I think I would be dishonest if I was thinking about something like that which I’m not, because we have unfinished business here,” Benn said.