Benzinger looks to provide versatility as swing tackle to Arizona Cardinals

Jake Benzinger

Benzinger looks to provide versatility as swing tackle to Arizona Cardinals
August 05
13:30 2020

There was little time for hesitation for former Wake Forest offensive lineman Jake Benzinger. 

His undrafted free agent signing with the Arizona Cardinals was announced roughly 30 minutes after the 2020 NFL Draft was completed, but talks started even before that. 

“All the undrafted guys from Wake signed at different times, but for me I almost was with the Cardinals before the draft even ended,” Benzinger said. “Once they ran out of picks, they called me and said, ‘let’s get a deal done.’ My agent told me we needed to get it done now, because the spots would dry up quickly. The signing bonus for undrafted guys goes pretty quick too. Everything happened way faster than I anticipated. 

“I’d heard of guys being able to weigh options, but the Cardinals were definitely pushing hard for me.”

Benzinger, who has spent some time in Atlanta working out with fellow Demon Deacons Nate Gilliam and Matt Colburn, is excited about the opportunity to start his professional career with the Cardinals. Gilliam and Benziger participated in a mock Pro Day in Georgia after the Wake Forest Pro Day had been canceled. 

“I’m excited to just have the opportunity,” he said. “It’s huge. They expressed a lot of interest in me before the draft. To see them follow through with that was encouraging. It happened super-fast, even faster than I’d thought.” 

A Massachusetts native, Benziger went on his first extended West Coast trip earlier this summer. 

“I recently did a trip out west, as my girlfriend lives in Colorado,” he said. “We went from Winston-Salem to Colorado. We drove coast to coast, basically. Drove down to Arizona to get my car there. I got to see more of the country.”

Also making the trip was his rescue dog Huck, who he adopted while at Wake Forest.  

“So we have a little bit of Winston-Salem with us wherever we go,” Benziger said. 

He believes he’s taken advantage of the last few months the best way possible, despite pandemic-related lockdowns.  

“This gives everyone an opportunity to look inward,” Benzinger said. “There’s a lot of things outside of our control, but the only things we need to worry about are within our control. I can control training hard and knowing as much as I can about the offense I’m getting into. We’ve hit the Zoom calls really hard. They’ve been intense, with a lot of quizzing. There’s been a lot of studying. 

“It’s been like an accelerated class, trying to get the playbook in via Zoom. I’ve been doing that, plus working out four-to-five times a week, trying to stay in shape.” 

Benzinger arrived in Winston-Salem as a lightly recruited two-star prospect. Hard work and continual development has led to him earning an NFL contract. 

“I definitely didn’t always think that was possible,” he said. “That’s not why I started playing college football. I thought I was maybe even in over my head at one point just playing in the ACC. I set attainable goals each year. As a redshirt freshman, I wanted to get some playing time. Redshirt sophomore year, I wanted to compete for a spot. As a redshirt junior I wanted to get better. And that final year, it just worked out. It seemed I had a shot, so I wanted to make the most of it. 

“Things just came naturally. It was always a dream, but it seemed like a lofty goal. It’s amazing how things have worked out. Right before my redshirt senior year it dawned on me that I could actually do this.”

Making an impact in Arizona will come down to becoming versatile and learning the offense, Benzinger believes.  

“I want to learn the offense as fast as possible,” he said. “That’s the number one way to get the attention of the coach and GM, is to know what you’re doing. Eventually, I want to be able to play both tackle spots. That’s the best way to make the roster, is to be a swing tackle and be the next guy in when a starter gets hurt. Being able to play left or right equally as well is what I’ve been working on. 

“It was a fast learning process, getting the offense in. Once it’s in, the game will move a little slower. It’s tough not getting the walk-throughs in. I take the information in well, but the walk-throughs are pretty important as well, to get a feel for spacing and learning the person next to you. We’ll get a lot of those when we first get to camp.”

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