Saturday, May 2, 2015

Oakland selects Kansas LB Ben Heeney in 5th round

Texas Tech receiver Bradley Marquez makes a move against Kansas defenders Cassius Sendish (33), Ben Heeney (31), and Fish Smithson (9) during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech receiver Bradley Marquez makes a move against Kansas defenders Cassius Sendish (33), Ben Heeney (31), and Fish Smithson (9) during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.


A starting linebacker in his final three seasons at Kansas University, Ben Heeney learned what his NFL future holds Saturday, when the Oakland Raiders selected him with the fourth pick of the fifth round, in the NFL Draft.

A First-team All-Big 12 selection in his final season with the Jayhawks, the Hutchinson native stood out both at East-West Shrine Game practices and the NFL Scouting Combine following his senior season.

Heeney’s speed — 4.59 seconds in the 40-yard dash and strong showings in shuttle drills — helped him overcome a perceived lack of size (6 feet, 231 pounds) for an NFL inside linebacker.

His knack for finding the ball (127 total tackles as a senior, 12 tackles for loss) and his reputation with his college coaches sure didn’t hurt Heeney’s case, either.

According to, Heeney graded out as a potential backup or special teams performer.

On ESPN’s live coverage of the draft, analyst Todd McShay praised Heeney, and said he’ll be able to cover kickoffs right away in the league.

“A lot of times you see these smaller guys, who are sideline-to-sideline linebackers who don’t tackle well,” McShay said. “That’s not Heeney.”

ESPN analyst Bill Polian, former vice chairman in Indianapolis, said Heeney reminded him of former Colts line backer Gary Brackett: “Small, short, but he can tackle, and he’s got punch.”

Many projected the former KU star as a mid- to late-round pick, and Oakland snatched Heeney up before another franchise had a chance to do so, with the 140th overall pick in the seven-round draft.

One round later, Philadelphia selected Heeney's KU teammate, cornerback JaCorey Shepherd.

More KU news and notes from NFL Draft


Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

Selfish perspective: Of all teams! Gosh. Anywhere but Oakland or Denver!

Considering Ben Heeney: Just very ecstatic Heeney will have a chance to play in the League. He's really earned it.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

Much has been made about Heeney's lack of size. He's the same height and weight as Manti Te'o.

Vernon Riggs 7 years, 4 months ago

The NEW Oakland has made giant leaps in their draft process. Last year and the picks that I saw that they made this year have been lucid, intelligent, well thought-out. It was like a sane Al Davis was in looking over their picks. I understand that Oakland is a dirty word in KC but they are up-and-comers.

Stephen Johnson 7 years, 4 months ago

Several LB were taken that were not any bigger than Heeney and did not have the same credentials or combine results. I hope he makes those teams regret not taking him.

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm not sure people should be upset about the Raiders picking Heeney. They should be upset that the Chiefs didn't. Heeney could make an impact right away but he probably won't start. He could make the 2-deep roster this upcoming season for Oakland, and they really need the depth that Heeney can provide. He was not the only ILB takey by Oakland either so there is a focus on that area and it seems it might be one of their priorities which puts emphasis on this opportunity for Heeney. He has the speed to cover tight ends and WR's with size and speed. He also knows how to find the ball when the opponent runs it. I'm looking for Heeney to have a significant role with the Raiders after 2 or 3 seasons. He'll force guys around him to compete harder, I believe.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

I agree and disagree with you, Micky. Surprise!!!

I love what you say about Heeney forcing guys around him to compete harder. Heeney is gonna bust his keister every damn day in practice. His coaches are gonna love him, and if he makes a roster he's gonna make guys around him push themselves so they dont look bad. What a great story its been for Heeney so far.

The one thing though. I think your opinion about Heeney going to the Raiders is not terribly far from mine or perhaps others who feel as I do. Not exactly the same, granted. But you cant begrudge Chiefs' fans--many of whom root for our own Crimson and Blue--not wanting Heeney to appear in Oakland's black. Yes, it would be fun to have him in KC, but I called Clark Hunt the other day re: Heeney and he told me flatly that my opinion is neither necessary nor desired.

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

Joe. I will say this. I'm not a Chiefs fan. I am a Raiders fan. With that said, we have one thing in common. We don't like the Broncos. It must be said that I'm not upset at all that Harris, Johnson, and Talib are there. Harris wasn't given a shot by anyone else and now he's a impact player for the Broncos. I can't be mad about that in any way. I wouldn't have been mad if the Chiefs picked these guys either. I'm surprised the Raiders picked two guys from Kansas. Someone there must see something in Heeney and McDonald. The Raiders had a very smart draft and a nice group of free agents that they signed as well. Can you blame them or the Chiefs or anyone else for making upgrades? Even the teams you hate the most should be teams you want to be good, so when you beat them... it's worth it.

Joe Ross 7 years, 4 months ago

In situations where players you love go to teams you hate, you have to root for your home team and specific players elsewhere.

Rock chalk to all players drafted, no matter where they end up.

Michael Lorraine 7 years, 4 months ago

Not that he can't make a roster but I wonder if Nigel King has any regrets. I believe I heard someone say one third of the players in the league went undrafted. Doesn't sound right but I'm sure there are plenty of undrafted players who have gone on to productive careers.

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

King might get on as an undrafted free agent somewhere. There has got to be a team that needs to fill a WR spot somewhere and would be willing to give him a shot. There are only room for approximately 240 some players to be drafted from roughly 130 Division I teams, not counting D 1AA or Division 2.

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