A blue-chip Canadian offensive lineman is about to be up for grabs.
Jake Bennett, a three-year starter at Colorado State, can provide immediate help for any team looking to add depth at centre. He is the only player available in Wednesday’s CFL supplemental draft.
Named a Mountain West first-team all-star in his senior season, Bennett spent the past year playing in the AAF after NFL prospects failed to materialize.
Bennett was the starting centre for the Salt Lake Stallions, anchoring a run-heavy attack. For reference, Saskatoon native Brett Boyko — now the starting right tackle for the B.C. Lions — did not start for his AAF squad in San Diego.
Most of the personnel people I’ve spoken to believe Bennett is worth a first-round draft pick. He would have been a sure-fire top-15 pick had he been available in last month’s national draft, potentially going as high as third overall.
Teams must wager a selection in the 2020 CFL draft to secure Bennett’s rights. In the event that teams wager selections in the same round, the club with the higher waiver status gets priority.
As such, the order of priority will be as follows: (1) Toronto Argonauts; (2) Montreal Alouettes; (3) Hamilton Tiger-Cats; (4) Edmonton Eskimos; (5) B.C. Lions; (6) Winnipeg Blue Bombers; (7) Saskatchewan Roughriders; (8) Ottawa Redblacks; (9) Calgary Stampeders.
Should the bidding reach the first round — and there’s a good chance it will — the Alouettes will be unable to wager a selection. Montreal’s first-round pick belongs to Hamilton by virtue of the Johnny Manziel trade.
Let’s take a look at the teams that may be most interested in Bennett’s services.
The Argos could use help along the offensive line, though I’m not sure Bennett is the best fit. Toronto has the best centre in the league in Sean McEwen, a former first-round pick who is still just 25. That said, the Calgary native is a pending free agent and the Stampeders need a centre… having a succession plan in place might not be a bad idea.
Edmonton has been forced to play three Americans along the offensive line for portions of the past two years. Losing 2017 second-round draft pick Jean-Simon Roy to B.C. after training camp has also depleted the club’s depth at centre. Bennett wouldn’t look out of place in green and gold.
The Riders are aging along the offensive line with starters Philip Blake, Brendon LaBatte, and Dan Clark over the age of 30. The club has also ran into injury problems with LaBatte and Dariusz Bladek on the six-game injured list. The club passed on Kansas centre Alex Fontana in May’s draft; Bennett would be a solid consolation prize.