Weight: 215 pounds
School: Virginia Cavaliers
Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 4.95 seconds
Bench press: 16 reps
Vertical jump: 31 inches (fourth among quarterbacks)
Broad jump: 9 feet, 4 inches
Three-cone drill: 7.15 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.33 seconds
Kurt Benkert 2018 NFL Draft Profile
Originally from Baltimore, MD, Kurt Benkert‘s family moved to Cape Coral, FL ahead of him entering the third grade. He eventually became a standout quarterback in high school, throwing for 2,261 yards and 20 touchdowns to just four interceptions at Island Coast High as a senior. Benkert originally committed to East Carolina, attracting the eye of current Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley who was the Pirates’ offensive coordinator at the time.
Benkert completed just eight passes as a redshirt freshman in 2014 with senior Shane Carden the incumbent starter. All things were pointing towards him taking over the following year. But he suffered a knee injury in preseason camp and missed the entirety of the 2015 season. He subsequently transferred to Virginia after not winning the starting job in the spring of 2016, and was eligible immediately as a grad transfer, having earned his undergraduate degree in three years.
The Cavaliers program was one in transition when Benkert arrived. Under first-year head coach Bronco Mendenhall, the Hoos endured a tough 2-10 season with Benkert’s 21 touchdown passes, 228 completions and 36.9 attempts per game all ranking no worse than 10th among ACC quarterbacks. He followed that up in 2017 with a single-season school record 3,207 yards to go along with 25 touchdown tosses. And only nine players in FBS who eclipsed 3,000 yards passing finished with fewer interceptions than his nine on the year. It helped UVA qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2011.
- has the height profile you look for in an NFL passer;
- quick, effortless release with a lot of velocity on the ball;
- solid quickness in setup on three and five-step drops;
- an accurate thrower on the run;
- can complete passes under duress;
- showed flashed of big-play ability on deep ball throws;
- capable of extending the play outside the tackles;
- yardage/touchdown numbers improved while interceptions went down from 2016 to 2017;
- put up school-record numbers in 2017 despite underwhelming receiving corps.
- too much of a one-read passer who doesn’t look for secondary/tertiary options downfield;
- mechanics are a tad inconsistent with too low a release point at times;
- ball-hawking defenders can read his eyes and pounce;
- not the most anticipatory thrower;
- a bit tentative and quick to resort to check downs;
- static in the pocket and slow to react to pressure;
- lined up almost exclusively in the shotgun at Virginia;
- completion percentage never exceeded 60 percent as a collegiate starter.
NFL Comparison: C.J. Beathard
Projection: Fifth round
Benkert was one of 24 FBS quarterbacks to throw for more than 3,200 yards in 2017 and garnered a Senior Bowl invite for his efforts. His arm strength and release quickness are both strong points and he showed the ability to make big-time throws in a near upset of Miami last season. But he struggles to read defenses effectively and is susceptible to rash throws into traffic. He also telegraphs his throws way too often which will result in interceptions against high-level NFL talent in the secondary. Benkert has what it takes to make the 53-man roster of whichever team drafts him and could emerge as a quality backup in time. Whether or not he can blossom into anything more remains to be seen.