Keeping it local: Cardinals nab ASU running back Eno Benjamin

Apr 25, 2020, 2:44 PM | Updated: 5:08 pm
Eno Benjamin (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
Eno Benjamin (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin doesn’t have to pick up and move if he still has digs in Tempe. On Saturday, the Arizona Cardinals took him 222nd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, using their seventh-round pick on the back they’re likely quite familiar with.

Benjamin joins a backfield that includes Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds and fellow ASU product D.J. Foster.

Benjamin became the second ASU player to get drafted in 2020 after receiver Brandon Aiyuk went 25th overall to the San Francisco 49ers.

Projected as a potential Day 2 pick by some, Benjamin found himself waiting longer than expected Saturday. He sat in the top-five of ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s best available list most of Saturday afternoon.

“I thought I’d be taken yesterday at some point during the third round,” Benjamin said. “Because of that day, I was thinking today I’d get drafted pretty early. It didn’t turn out that way, but I’m forever grateful that I got the opportunity to get drafted and play the sport that I love once again.

“It’s just that much of an easier transition for me being able to go and move right down the road from where I played in college.”

The running back is the first Sun Devil drafted by the Cardinals since 1998, when Arizona used a seventh-round pick on the late Pat Tillman.

“It kind of shook me to my core, knowing who he is and what he’s done,” Benjamin said on a conference call.

Benjamin, a junior in 2019, led the Sun Devils in yards from scrimmage with 1,430, the second year in a row that he’s had over 1,000 yards. He finished his ASU career with 3,492 yards, the bulk of those on the ground, and most of them coming in his sophomore and junior seasons.

His career year was in 2018, when he had 1,905 yards from scrimmage, and broke the school record for rushing yards in a season with 1,642. He also broke ASU’s record for rushing yards in a game when he had 312 against Oregon State.

His 2019 campaign behind a young offensive line was plenty productive, too. In 12 games, Benjamin had 12 touchdowns and six games of triple-digit rushing yards.

Even as a freshman in 2017, the Wylie, Texas, native got carries in 10 games despite being behind NFL prospects Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard on the depth chart. Benjamin was a consensus four-star prospect coming out of high school.

Clemson's Isaiah Simmons reacts after stopping Alabama's Najee Harris during the first half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2020, file photo, North offensive tackle Josh Jones of Houston (70) plays during the second half of the Senior Bowl college football game in Mobile, Ala. Jones was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the NFL football draft Friday, April 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) Fourth round (114th overall)

Utah DT Leki Fotu
(Photo by Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Fourth round (131st overall)

LSU DL Rashard Lawrence
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Sixth round (202nd overall)
California ILB Evan Weaver
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin, left, avoids a tackle by Oregon State defensive back Jaydon Grant during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

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