When the Detroit Lions drafted Dwight “Bill” Bentley, cornerback from Louisiana-Lafayette, Lions fans everywhere exhaled a sigh of relief. It wasn’t lost on Lions’ GM Martin Mayhew.
“Well, we drafted a corner,” joked Mayhew during the post-pick presser. “It seems like everybody looks a little happier now.”
Coming from Louisiana-Lafayette, Bentley flew under the radar of many. In addition to coming from a small school, the 5-foot-10, 182 pound cornerback also had to overcome his less-than-opposing stature on route to being drafted.
The Lions were aware of Bentley early but he solidified their interest in him when he proved he could compete against top competition with a strong showing in the Senior Bowl.
“We really like this guy,” said Mayhew. “He’s quick, he’s fast; he really caught my eye at the Senior Bowl – very, very impressive Senior Bowl playing against the top competition. Then I went back and watched the Oklahoma State game when he played against Justin Blackmon and (QB) Brandon Weeden and he played an outstanding game against those guys.
“Our coaches have liked him, our scouts have liked him for a while. The guy is a very productive player; he’s going to be a good player for us.”
Bentley’s small school background and lacking physical size allowed him to last until the third round but his quick feet, fluid movement and physicality offer the required characteristics of a solid pro in the Lions scheme.
“He was always able to rise to the level of competition,” said head coach Jim Schwartz. “He’s not the tallest or the heaviest, but he ran real fast and he’s a really good cover guy. He’s an aggressive player also. I wouldn’t classify him as physical just because he’s 180-pounds, but he certainly throws his body around like Martin said. He’s a good playmaker. When you watch the Senior Bowl, it didn’t take very long for him to standout when it came to the cover guys.”
Bentley will immediately challenge for playing time in the nickel formation and his willingness and ability to tackle enable him to contribute on special teams from day one.
Bentley will have to continue to add muscle to his 5-foot-10 frame in order to be able to withstand the physical demands of an NFL season as well as hold up against stronger competition.
“He’s from a smaller school,” said Mayhew. “Sometimes those guys come to our situation and our weight program, our strength and conditioning coaches do an excellent job with those guys and we’ll see what he weighs later, but he plays big. He makes big plays. I like the way he plays.”
There is much that remains to be seen but Bentley has the tools to develop into a solid pro within the Lions scheme.