Beau Benzschawel expected to hear his name called on draft weekend last spring. He managed to slip out of the draft, though, and the Detroit Lions proceeded to win his services among a large group of suitors.
The guard is another in a long line of Wisconsin Badger offensive lineman that has a chance to carve out a real role for himself at the pro level. He was named an All-American in both 2017 and 2018, and even was a consensus choice in the latter year.
Concerns over his strength and footwork arose in the months leading up to the draft, though, and he began to slide down draft boards. It still came as a shock when he went undrafted, though, and he is possibly the best undrafted free agent of the 2019 class.
As a UDFA, Benzschawel will have to work to earn a 53-man roster spot. A good training camp and preseason could see him rocket into not just a roster spot, but potentially a starting role.
Detroit still does not have a true starting left guard after the release of T.J. Lang early in the offseason. Oday Aboushi, Kenny Wiggins, and Joe Dahl look like the favorites to fill the spot as we enter training camp, but neither has done anything to lock their name into the starting lineup. With the door wide open, it is too early to even consider a UDFA out of the running to start this season.
The range for where Benzschael may end up at the end of training camp is vast. A quiet, lackluster camp could see him looking for work in September. If he impresses and proves to be a formidable presence up front for Detroit, then he could be the team’s starting guard for the season opener.
Either way, Benzschawel is the most interesting story to keep an eye on over the next month, and it could even be the most important.