Illinois' Benn has first-round expectations

Updated: April 22, 2010, 5:22 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

Former Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn doesn't agree with ESPN NFL draft analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay.

Benn believes he will be drafted in the first round on Thursday; Kiper and McShay don't.

"Yeah, I feel I will end up going in the first round," Benn said on Wednesday. "I have a lot of confidence in myself. I put myself in a position to do it. The team has the say so. It's out of my control. I hope for the best."

Kiper and McShay believe it's more likely that Benn, a 6-foot-1, 219-pound wide receiver, will be selected in the second round on Friday. Benn is ranked the 36th overall prospect and the third wide receiver in the draft, according to ESPN Scouts Inc.

"It'll be a little bit disappointing if I'm not picked in the first round," Benn said. "There's a competition. But at the end of the day, I'm doing what I love to do. I'll move on.

"I've been dreaming about this since I was little. I was 6 years old. I'm going to continue working hard. It's just the beginning."

Benn is willing to go play anywhere, but he especially enjoyed his visit with the Denver Broncos, who have the 11th overall pick in the first round and 43rd and 45th picks in the second round.

"I really liked Denver," Benn said. "They stood out a lot. Hopefully they make a good decision and pick someone who can make plays for them, a guy who will give them everything they need.

"I'm a guy who's going to put on a hard hat, a guy who's going to be great on and off the field, a face-of-the-franchise guy."

Benn didn't have the junior season he had hoped for at Illinois. After catching 67 passes for 1,055 yards as a sophomore, Benn had just 38 receptions for 490 yards and was hampered by an early-season ankle injury.

Benn doesn't believe his junior season will affect his draft outcome.

"Stats don't make a guy," Benn said. "Teams know that. Everything I deal with at Illinois, teams know that. At the end of the day, you got to look at my body of work, what I did over the years, and who I did it with."

Benn plans to watch Thursday's first round with his family in Washington D.C.

"I'm not nervous right now," Benn said. "I know a team is going to make a good decision if they select me."

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.