Michael Bennett, the senior defensive lineman for the National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after a productive career as a starter in each of the last two seasons. In 2014, Bennett was named Second Team All-Conference after totaling 41 tackles, 14 TFLs, and 7 sacks. It was Bennett’s second time being named as an All-Conference player, as he was honored as a second team performer in 2013 after a year that included 44 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, and 7.5 sacks. For his career, Bennett totaled 111 tackles, 31.5 TFLs and 18 sacks. Bennett switched his jersey number from 63 to 53 this past season to honor his late teammate, Kosta Karageorge. Physically, Bennett measures in at 6’2? and 293 lbs; He has a stout, thick frame with decent overall length (nearly 34? arms). His weight is evenly distributed and he has a good, thick base. He could probably add another 10lbs or so in an effort to increase his overall power at the POA versus NFL competition. Bennett is a disciplined player who is rarely caught out of position or duped by play fakes/misdirections. He is tough and competitive, displaying a willingness to mix it up and fight his way toward the ball. He possesses average overall strength, at times struggling to disengage from the lineman. He anchors well and is a tough guy to move around, but he’s not a mauler who will win consistently in the power game. Bennett lacks top-tier explosiveness at the snap, but he’s quick enough to penetrate from time to time due to good overall snap recognition. Against the run, Bennett is a one-gap defender who creates trash in the play’s aiming point. When he’s in position to make a play, he’s a generally reliable finisher. He’s at his best when run at, as he lacks the kind of closing speed and range to make a play in pursuit. In addition, there were several moments on tape where he loafed and seemed to give up on the play. In the passing game, Bennett is a clean-up player who is capable of bringing the quarterback to the ground as a result of pressure from the edge (forcing the QB to step up in the pocket). While Bennett did display an effective swim move, his hand play and overall arsenal of pass rush moves needs work. He’s just not consistently sudden enough to be an elite pass rusher from the defensive tackle position. He flashes the ability, but it’s just not there from rep to rep.
BOTTOM LINE: Michael Bennett is a good football player who will have a role in a rotational setting in the NFL. He’s not flashy and he won’t wow you on every play, but he’s a reliable defensive tackle that will be effective versus the run with some pass rushing upside. He appears tailor-made for a 43 scheme; He simply lacks the size, consistent strength and pop at the POA to feel confident lining him up in a 34. I’d like to see Bennett add more weight during the early portion of his career in an effort to become one of the better run stopping defensive tackles. With more advanced hand play, he could quietly emerge as a starting defensive tackle in the not-so-distant future. For now, he looks like a rotational player who presents good value toward the end of Day 2.
GRADE: 7.0 (3rd Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)