The Jacksonville Jaguars picked a number of players analysts called "steals" during the 2015 NFL Draft, with Michael Bennett being at the top.
Going as high as the second round in mock drafts leading up to the NFL Draft, getting Bennett where the Jaguars did was good news. Even if the second round-grade was reaching (it was) the majority of analysts had him in the fourth or fifth round.
So, why the reason for the fall? What does Bennett bring to the Jaguars? We went to SB Nation's Ohio State blog Land Grant Holy Land and got some answers:
1. What are Michael Bennett's strengths? If a team built around him, what would his roles and responsibilities be?
If the team were built around him, he would quickly be a leader of the defense and would dominate the three-technique role in the 4-3 defense.
Fast and strong are two words that adequately describe Michael Bennett. He has a quick snap off the line and his incredible arm and hand strength make it tough for players to get around him. He also has a great ability to angle his body to deflect blocks and can overcome double teams rather easily. His work ethic ensures he gives his all in between whistles and is a big contributor to team morale in the locker room. He has an innate sense of where the football is and how to get to it.
He also has tremendous leadership ability. By no means is that a knock on his on-field ability, but he's just one of those guys who has natural leadership traits. It probably has something to do with being the son of two West Point grads.
He's not necessarily an alpha-male type guy -- he went out of his way to live with non-football players in college to get away from it a bit -- but he'll lead by example with his play. He's just not a guy you have to worry about off the field stuff with. As a captain at Ohio State, he represented the team and university as good as you could ask for.
2. If you're an opponent, how are you trying to neutralize Bennett? What are his weaknesses? Where does he need to improve?
His speed and quickness are both a blessing and a curse, his quick bursts off the line sometime result in him losing track of the running back. Bennett tends to play down or up to his opponent which could be seen as a lack of motivation, but when he's faced with a challenge, he often rises above it and comes through for his team. His most dominating performances during his senior campaign for Ohio State was down the stretch toward their national championship win; he excelled under the lights and on the big stage.
He's got to figure out a way to protect his body and increase his motor. If he can do that his technique is sound enough for him to a successful NFL career.
3. Why did Bennett fall to the sixth round? He was projected as high as the second round in some mock drafts.
NFL teams never got the chance to see Bennett's full physicality with his limitations at both the NFL Combine and Ohio State's pro day. His second chance for a workout in front of the scouts resulted in a pulled hamstring after his second attempt at the 40-yard dash; he skipped the rest of the workouts and headed straight to the locker room. Scouts left Columbus with questions regarding Bennett's health and if he would be able to participate in rookie mini-camps this spring. Luckily, he hasn't had any issues thus far in his workouts with the Jaguars.
4. What are some reasonable expectations for Bennett's rookie year with the Jaguars?
Seeing the field is any capacity would probably be a success. Again, he's not the biggest DT so he's got to prove he can withstand an NFL-type pounding on a regular basis.
Being in the NFL means his job is football 24 hours a day, and that's something he's also going to have to adjust to. I think he can give meaningful reps, but it's really going to be dependent on him learning quickly and keeping himself as healthy as possible.
5. How do you like Bennett's skill set with the Jaguars? Their defensive line is built on a rotational model. Do you think he'll fit well, or are there some things he and the team will have to change?
A rotational model is probably the best case for Bennett. He has good -- but definitely not elite speed and strength -- which he'll have to learn to use in picking his spots in the NFL if he is going to maximize his contributions. It's hard to imagine a guy like him not fitting in anywhere because he has such high character and effort.
He should be able to play the three-technique and work is way into the starting rotation relatively quickly. He's used to being a leader and will need to humble himself to learn from some of the veterans on the team, but so long as he keeps his ego in check and a positive attitude, he should be a welcomed addition to the locker room.
If he can take care of himself physically and adjust to the NFL workload then he should be an incredibly productive player and an absolute steal for the Jags in the sixth round.