Jakorian Bennett has a quiet confidence and maturity about himself that's continuing to rise throughout Training Camp.
The fourth-round pick from Maryland has become one of the most talked about rookie in camp, holding his own in practices against the team's top receivers. As he takes every day and every rep one at a time, he's not been phased by the pressure to this point. It's all been a learning experience for him.
"You're going to make a mistake. Just learn from it," Bennett said, describing his practice mentality. "You're arguably going against some of the best receivers – Hunter [Renfrow], Jakobi [Meyers], Davante [Adams], Phillip [Dorsett]. Going against those guys, you're going to lose some, you're going to win some. It's cliché, but iron sharpens iron. Going against them, trying to get better each and every day. I look at it as sweating a lot right now [to] make the game a lot easier."
The newcomer called it "surreal" to be facing the likes of Davante Adams every day in practice. While speaking with local media for the first time since being drafted, he remembered being "kind of starstruck" the first time he met the All-Pro receiver. The starstruck allure went away quickly though, as Bennett has embraced the opportunity to line up against Adams frequently. He's also been able to pick No. 17's brain about the game – a perk many young cornerbacks could only dream of.
Bennett didn't receiving any scholarship offers out of high school in Mobile, Alabama, so he took his game to the next level in JUCO and later with the Maryland Terrapins. He came into the league with a bit of notoriety, having created a lockdown tandem with Giants' first-round pick Deonte Banks. Bennett's name even appeared on CBS Sports' list of "under-the-radar" AFC players earlier this offseason.
Despite the hype around the media that has come with his impressive showings in practice, he's avoided listening to most of it. The 22-year-old is more concerned with what his peers and coaches inside the practice facility think about his play.
"I'm not on social media that much, especially during camp," said Bennett. "It's good, whatever, but I'm just trying to get better. It really starts during these preseason games and the regular season when it really matters. ... Any time I make a play or do something that has the vets say, 'Good job, rook,' that's a moment like, 'Man, I really belong. I'm good enough.' That's always motivation."
While learning from Adams' years of experience, Bennett is also learning from speedster Phillip Dorsett. The rookie is one player who can match the veteran receiver's speed stride for stride.
"He's a good rookie. He understands his leverage," Dorsett said of Bennett. "He understands a lot of things. He can run, so he can run with anybody, doesn't matter who it is. It's a great matchup for me just going out there and getting him better and him getting me better. It's been a fun battle. I'm looking forward to continuing to keep going with him and getting him better."
A huge component of the rookie's success to the point has been his preparation. There are not many things that've surprised him since entering the league. As the Raiders turn their attention to joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers, it will give Bennett another opportunity to get acclimated to the pro level, face elite competition and put his name on the map.
"I knew everybody was going to be good. I knew everybody was going to be tough," Bennett said of entering the NFL. "I was going to have to learn a lot. I was going to have some Ls, have some wins. It was kind of what I expected. Each and every day, I've got to come in with the mentality to get better – daily improvement – and try to be the best version of myself."
Download the Raiders + Allegiant Stadium app to be the first to know the latest about the Silver and Black with push notifications and livestream alerts straight from the team.
View the best photos from 2023 Training Camp practice at Intermountain Health Performance Center.