CFL Draft profile: defensive lineman Mason Bennett, North Dakota

Photo courtesy: Russell Hons/UND Athletics

Mason Bennett
Defensive End
North Dakota

Height: 6’4
Weight: 262
Hometown: Winnipeg, Man.
Twitter: @MasonBennett55

Statistics: 43 games, 128 total tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss, 20 sacks, one forced fumble

The Vincent Massey High School graduate tormented opposing quarterbacks as a grade 12 student, leading the Winning High School Football League with 16.5 sacks. His play generated interest from a number of post-secondary programs, including Manitoba, UBC, Queen’s, North Dakota (UND) and North Dakota State (NDSU).

“The offer I received from UND was a bit more than NDSU, so financially it made sense to go to UND,” said Bennett. “But also at the time I was playing outside linebacker and the scheme they were running at UND, I just fit in really well as an edge-rush 3-4 guy.”

Bennett only weighed 210 pounds when he joined the Fighting Hawks, however he continued to get bigger as the years progressed. He played his senior season at 262 pounds, though he’s open to adjusting his weight as needed at the professional level.

“I think I’ve shown teams that I’m dedicated in the weight room and to proper nutrition. If I had to lose weight or gain weight to fit their scheme, that would be no problem for me.”

The former Fort Garry Lion has drawn the attention of NFL scouts with five teams having expressed interest in signing him as an undrafted free agent. Bennett’s frame certainly lends itself to the American game, featuring the size and length NFL teams covet. But that doesn’t mean he’s taking the CFL for granted.

“Everybody wants to play in the NFL and all that, but growing up as a Canadian kid I would be more than honoured to play in the CFL.”

Bennett has been playing football since age six and grew up attending Blue Bombers games at Canad Inns Stadium. He’s now an imposing defensive end capable of beating opposing blockers with power or quickness. He’s a violent hitter who should contribute early in his career as a rotational pass rusher.

He also has experience on special teams from his sophomore and freshman seasons, having played on kickoff, punt, and kickoff return teams.

North Dakota has produced a number of great CFL players — Weston Dressler, Scott Schultz, Stan Mikawos — and a second-round draft pick last year in running back Brady Oliveira. They’ve got another good one in Bennett.

Anonymous quote from a CFL scout: “Most defensive ends in the draft are just too small. Bennett’s got the size you look for in a pass rusher. And he can get after (the passer).”

Projected round: 1-2

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.