Ja’Whaun Bentley is a player to watch as training camp progresses. The Patriots fifth-round pick out of Purdue looked like a natural in the middle of the defense during the team’s first preseason game against the Washington Redskins. He played extremely well considering it was his first action at the NFL level.
Bentley was the middle linebacker for the Patriots second unit, wearing the green-dotted helmet to signify his role as one of New England’s signal callers. He finished the game with six tackles, including two for a loss of yardage. Bentley proved adept at rushing up the middle, with strength and surprising speed. His ability to stop runners behind the line was Dont’a Hightower-esque.
Bentley’s most surprising moments came when in coverage. He showed an ability to move well laterally after the ball was snapped, and closed quickly on running backs and tight ends in short-intermediate routes. He clearly does not have the size or the speed to be a consistent coverage linebacker. However, in just one game Bentley appeared more impressive in coverage than Elandon Roberts has at any point throughout his three-year career.
Heading into camp, the Patriots depth at linebacker was a serious question mark for New England’s defense in 2018. However, Bentley has seemed to fit in well and could have a significant role for the team this season. His progress and development through camp will be something to keep an eye on.
Until next time – B$