clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ben Heenan In-Depth Breakdown

New, comments

The Colts made another big CFL signing in Ben Heenan. Stampede Blue's Andrew Aziz breaks down the new Colts offensive linemen with video analysis and identifies his fit within the system.

USA TODAY Sports

The Colts continue to make CFL signings and as a Canadian I couldn't be happier! There is a ton of talent in the CFL and I see it first hand every year! More teams should be looking into the CFL.

Ben Heenan was the 1st overall pick in the 2012 CFL Draft. Heenan was a highly touted offensive tackle coming out of University of Saskatchewan and dominated the CIS for many seasons. He was a slam dunk #1 overall pick (with the #1 ranked player being a top pick in the NFL Draft); there was no debate about it. Heenan spent his rookie season splitting time as a a right guard. He split time between starting and backing up but ended up on the bench for the last few games. He did start more games than backing up. In his 2nd season, Heenan made the switch to right tackle and never looked back. Although he did end up starting a few games at right guard (due to injuries), it was obvious that he was a better right tackle. In 2014, he played as the right tackle and led the way for a great running game. The Roughriders had the 2nd best running back in the CFL (in terms of yards) in 2014 and it was thanks to great help from Heenan and the offensive line.

Scouting Report

Let's break down Heenan with a scouting report. I'll use the same template that I would use for draft prospects (with some modifications).

Height: 6'4'

Weight: 310 lbs.

Strengths

  • Strong, compact build with a strong center of balance.
  • Gets a low center of gravity against pass rushers and his helmet is usually lower than that of the opponent.
  • Shows a very good ability to get to the second level and seal off linebackers.
  • Shows good awareness and understands what's revolving around him.
  • Shadows pass rushers well and keeps up with speedy ones.

Weaknesses

  • Is not very athletic, with a 5.28 40 time and isn't very agile.
  • He doesn't pull very well and lacks the speed to get to the corner quickly.
  • He needs to finish his blocks better.
  • Footwork occasionally lags behind his body (body and feet must be in-sync).

Injury History

  • Missed two games due to injury in 2013

Summary

Ben Heenan has the size and strength that you look for in an offensive lineman. His sturdy frame and compact body allow him to go up against any type of defender and go tit-for-tat against them.

As a pass protector, he gets a low center of gravity and consistently gets his helmet lower than his opponents. This shows great balance and balance is key for offensive linemen. He shadows pass rushers well and is able to keep up with even the quickest players. He will occasionally be "out of step" and get his hands too high, but it's obvious that he's a very good pass protector.

As a run blocker, he's more inconsistent, but shows good skills. He shows the ability to get to the 2nd level and seal off linebackers. He also shows good general awareness and will go and block whoever is around him. Heenan isn't very athletic and that does hurt him, especially when he is pulling around the tackle. His agility hurts him at times.

Overall, he's a stout pass protector, but must work on his run blocking skills.

NFL Comparison: Jake Matthews, Atlanta Falcons

Similar size and strength, and both are right tackles. However, Matthews has a higher ceiling.

Video Analysis

Play #1 -- Edmonton Eskimos Game (Week 1) -- 1st & Goal | 1st Quarter | 10:33 Remaining

We see here that Heenan is lined up at right tackle in a Pistol formation. Heenan is lined up against a stand up defensive end. This play is a designed run to the left side, so it is important that Heenan gets to the 2nd level.

As the play starts, Heenan gets initial penetration on the left defensive tackle, creating a double team against him. This is just a quick shove and now he must get to the next level.

Heenan gets to the next level very nicely and gets a very nice block on the linebacker. Now what he must do is seal him off the play.

Heenan doesn't seal him off properly but he takes him off course enough that it doesn't affect the play. He did three of the four steps perfectly. Kory Sheets (the ball carries) finds the endzone on the play.

Overall, this shows how he performs on running plays where he needs to get to the 2nd level. Heenan is strong enough to overpower almost any linebacker (in the NFL or CFL), but it's all about finishing. The linebacker on the play (#47 J.C. Sherritt) is 5'9, 220 pounds; he should never be able to escape a block from a person who's 90 pounds bigger and 7 inches taller. So, this play has some positives and some negatives.

Play #2 -- Edmonton Eskimos Game (Week 1) -- 1st & Goal | 3rd Quarter | 10:10 Remaining

On this play from the same game, Heenan is lined up at right tackle here again. They are inside the 5 yard line and again they are in that pistol formation. However, this time, Saskatchewan is passing the ball.

Heenan gets off to a good start against this pass rusher. You can see that he has good bend in his knees and that he has a good center of balance. His "hat" level is lower than that of the pass rusher. He is in perfect position here.

As the play continues, Heenan gets some help from the running back, but there is something important here that needs to be noted. Look at the two lines. The lines indicate the helmet level of the players. Heenan's helmet is indicated by the green line and the yellow line shows the helmet level of the pass rusher. The green line is lower than the yellow line meaning that Heenan is lower and is more sturdy on the play. As a blocker, you want your helmet to be lower than your opponent as balance wins 99% of the time. What's also important is that Heenan's hands are in the right position on the pass rusher's chest. This is just about perfect and I noticed this great technique from about 75% of the time in passing situations.

Finally, as the ball is in the air we see that Heenan is still in the right position shadowing the pass rusher.

This play shows that Heenan is a strong pass protector. Of course, two examples don't tell you exactly how the player is, but by watching Heenan's tape and seeing how he performs, these plays are good examples of what type of player he is. He's a stout pass protector, showing good technique that could win him a starting job in the NFL. As a run blocker, there's some good and some bad.

Where He Fits With the Colts

Heenan fits well as a right guard on the Colts offensive line. Although he may be better suited as a right tackle, Gosder Cherilus currently occupies that spot and has plenty of NFL experience playing that position. He should stay there. The Colts have a lot of uncertainty at the right guard and he could at least compete for the starting job. At worst, he's a versatile backup. He could backup for both the guard and tackle position (similar to Reitz, but he's better than Reitz). For now, he'll be in competition for a starting job on the line, but with guys with more experience with the Colts and in the NFL, he won't be the favorite to win the job immediately. However, don't think he can't be a starter, because he possesses the skills you look for in a starter.