Sunday, February 01, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #9 - Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State

 I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football.  By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better.  It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.)
Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State - 6'2, 290 - Senior
Defensive lineman Michael Bennett plays while wearing #53 to honor late teammate Kosta Karageorge of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Big Ten Championship against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 6, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
As we continue to dig through the defensive tackles in this draft, we move from the 320+ division down to the sub-300 types.  This group is not to be overlooked or undervalued as many of the great DTs in the league are under 300 pounds and they win with quickness and athleticism in the land of the giants.
Today, it is big Bennett from the Ohio State Buckeyes.  On their way to the National Championship, #53 was in the middle causing chaos and competing at a rather high level where he had 7 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in his senior season.  He was also one of the key leaders on that defense that refused to lose down the stretch against elite opponent after elite opponent.  For Bennett, I watched Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon in the final month to study his work.
What I liked:  He can really be that bull in a china shop and affect the pocket and the line of scrimmage consistently by his high level of compete.  He is strong and sudden and seems to be ready to battle all day long for those few plays that can change a game.  He does remind me in many ways of Tyrone Crawford with his versatility and his ability to deal with bigger guys with quickness and outside guys with strength.  He literally was put all up and down the line and you can see in a 4-3 that he would play both tackle spots and the occasional spell at DE - although that is not his forte.  He has a great push/pull move that compliments his swim technique to win right at the snap against guards who are leaning too much and he has real nice quickness inside.   I think he is the type of rotational guy who could really wear out a line for 4-Quarters.
What I did not like:  It wasn't always there from Bennett. He would have spells of quiet play and even watch the play if he was unsuccessful early.  He also spent way too much time on the ground in the games I watched as his quickness sometimes resulted in losing a battle of strength by losing balance and being pancaked.  When that happens he gets off balance and loses leverage and then he is of no use on that play.  He will also spin too much and occasionally has his back to the play as he gets stuck in his transition in the trenches.  I don't think he would be a big sack guy by straight wins, but rather the type to win from coverage or a pocket collapsing into his path.
Summary:  There is a lot to like and he will add quite a bit to a team's defensive line.  The questions are whether you want to pay the price to get him as he might be part of the answer, but not THE answer.  You would need to use him properly and maybe limit his snaps to keep his energy high, but you can see that he would be a real nice fit with a team like the Cowboys who wish to have a 6-8 man rotation at all times.  Under those circumstances, I would really value him.  He may be somewhat redundant to the type of player Crawford is, but having them side by side on a 4-3 nickel rush is exciting.

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