The Edmonton Eskimos top football men are convinced Canadian defensive lineman Mathieu Betts is an extraordinary player.

“Anytime you’re looking at a player of Betts’ quality at the three spot available to you and you feel like you can wait, I think you have to take it. He’s a transcendent player, you don’t see those guys every year,” Eskimos head coach Jason Maas said.

“The analogy we used to describe him is he’s the Canadian John Chick in his prime,” general manager Brock Sunderland said. “The first thing is his quickness off the ball, he wins a lot of matches right off the snap. He’s got a high, high motor, he’s relentless and he’s got a skill set and a repotoire of pass rush moves.”

During four seasons at Laval, Betts made 73.5 tackles, 35.5 sacks, 17 knockdowns, five forced fumbles and five fumbles recovered in 33 games. He was named an All-Canadian four times and the first player to win the USports J.P. Metras Trophy as the outstanding down lineman three straight years while becoming the only football athlete ever to win four major USports awards during his career (who was also named 2015 rookie of the year) and part of two Vanier Cup championship teams (2016 and 2018).

“He was the number one guy on our board. All the film study that we did on him, he’s powerful – speed to power – he gets around the edge and gets to the quarterback. He’s athletic – there’s a lot of special qualities about him,” Maas said.

The Quebec conference all-time leading sack man impressed scouts at the East-West Shrine Game in January – half of the NFL teams met with Betts in Tampa Bay. Five NFL teams attended Betts’ pro day at Laval and it ended with the Chicago Bears signing the Montreal native as an undrafted free agent. That means the Eskimos will have to wait and see how Betts makes out in the NFL.

“We’re hoping Betts comes here at some point. We realize there is the risk he may not show up here this year,” Maas said.

“We understand there’s a little bit of risk because of the NFL, but he wasn’t drafted so that changes things,” Sunderland said. “There’s no guarantee he’ll be here, but a little bit less of a chance that he sticks for longer because he wasn’t a draft pick.”

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