Mario Benavides of Louisville is an underrated center prospect from the Sugar Bowl champion Louisville Cardinals. Benavides was a 4 year starter and All-Conference performer on offensive line charged with protecting uber-talented QB Teddy Bridgewater. Despite suffering a few injuries over the course of his career, Benavides is healthy and ready to show the NFL that he can be a reliable starting center for a team looking for one. It was my pleasure to interview Mario for NFL Draft Zone.
Shaun DePasquale: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today Mario. Can you tell me where you’re training for the NFL Draft?
Mario Benavides: Naples Florida with Clif Marshall and Ignition.
SD: What do you feel are your strengths and things you may need to work on?
MB: One my strengths are that despite injuries I have been able to produce and start 47 games over my collegiate career. I also understand the complexity of defenses and bring a toughness with my game. I need to work on and have been working on my regaining strength and becoming a better drive blocker.
SD: How do you feel your time at Louisville helped you prepare for the NFL?
MB: Our coaches expect excellence from us and demand that we treat every workout and practice like a game. This has helped me to not only play the game with but also live with sense of urgency.
SD: What do you feel you bring to an NFL offense?
MB: I feel that I will bring the ability to run a multiplicity of schemes. I have played in a pro-style offense my last two years I’m collage and have been asked to make a number of calls with regards to getting the offense in the right position. I will also bring an edge and nastiness to the offensive line group.
SD: Have you received any feedback from NFL scouts?
MB: I have met with a few and it’s mainly good feedback with the main concern being my weight. I have worked extremely hard on putting back on the weight that I once had and am now comfortably at 295 pounds.
SD: What was the NFLPA Bowl All Star experience like for you?
MB: It was a great experience. Not only did I meet some great players, but I was able to learn from Will Shields who is one of the greatest offensive lineman to ever play in the NFL.
SD: Who was the toughest opponent you ever faced in college?
MB: In recent memory I would have to say Scott Vallone from Rutgers. He has a high motor and was a hassle to block for 4 quarters. Derek Wolfe from Cincinnati a couple of yrs ago was also very good.
SD: What has been your greatest accomplishment, athletically or personally ?
MB: Winning the Sugar Bowl and being part of the biggest win in school history along with being the biggest upset in BCS history. Being a Rimington finalist was also an honor.
SD: If you could have dinner with any 3 people, living or otherwise, who would they be and why?
MB: Abraham Lincoln, my grandmother who passed away when my father was only 15, and Tom Landry.
SD: Give me the name of a teammate that doesn’t get nearly enough recognition.
MB: Marcus Smith our DE who is going into his senior year. Watch film on him. His numbers don’t jump out but he is constantly disruptive in the run and the pass game. He consistently puts pressure on the QB and frees up other guys to make plays.
SD: What message would you like to send to NFL teams about Mario Benavides?
MB: If you draft me you will get a hard-working, hungry, intelligent, and experienced football player who loves the game and wants nothing more than to win.
SD: Last question, what would be your first purchase with an NFL paycheck?
MB: I would immediately put half away and then buy a brand new big screen TV for my father.
SD: Thank you so much for your time Mario. Good luck in your journey!