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2019 NFL draft: Introducing Ben Banogu, TCU’s versatile defender

Oklahoma State v TCU Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Versatility is king in today’s NFL and TCU’s Ben Banogu offers that in bunches.

A 3-4 outside linebacker that showcased his ability to play inside at the Senior Bowl, Banogu showed exactly why teams at the next level are high on his skill set.

Banogu recently spoke exclusively with MCM about his Senior Bowl experience, what position he thinks he’ll play at the next level and which NFL quarterbacks he can’t wait to take down.

JM: What was the Senior Bowl experience like for you?

BB: It was different but great. I got a chance to showcase my versatility. I played mostly linebacker out there. That was new to me but I felt like I acclimated to it rather quickly.

JM: Are you making the transition from outside linebacker to strong side linebacker at the next level?

BB: I wouldn’t say that, no. I don’t see myself as a stand-up linebacker like I was playing at the Senior Bowl. I still see myself as a pass rusher.

JM: So you don’t think you’ll be playing strong side linebacker in the NFL?

BB: It’s not up to me to make that decision. I do think I’m a better fit as a pass rusher though, specifically an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

JM: If your pro team asks you to make that transition, what do you think will be the biggest challenge you’ll face?

BB: Doing it at the Senior Bowl allowed me to get a little familiar with what I’d potentially be doing in that role. I can already see that one challenge I would maybe encounter would be learning the position and how to read my keys and what not. I think that would be the biggest challenge, just getting familiar with the responsibilities. I’m fully capable of playing the position athletically though. That wouldn’t be a big deal.

JM: Who are some of the best offensive linemen you’ve ever gone up against?

BB: Cody Ford from Oklahoma comes to my mind. He’s a prospect in this draft class that’s getting some pretty good buzz. Isaiah Prince from Ohio State was pretty good as well. Dalton Risner from Kansas State was another good one. He’s another guy that’s getting some early round buzz. Those are the three that immediately come to mind.

JM: Do you feel your game is more refined against the pass or run at this time?

BB: I’d say I’m pretty refined in both areas. Balance has always been the key for me. That’s what I’ve always strived for. There’s always room for growth though. I’ll never be satisfied with where I’m at in either area. I wouldn’t say that I’m better at one than the other though.

JM: Is there an NFL quarterback that you’d love to sack?

BB: I wanna sack all of them (laughs). If I had to single out a few, Russell Wilson is the first that comes to mind. I’ve always heard that Wilson is the toughest quarterback to bring down. He has great feet. Aaron Rodgers would be another. I feel like with the exception of Tom Brady and Drew Brees, Rodgers is the best quarterback out there.

JM: How will you look back on your time spent at TCU?

BB: I hope that I upheld the legacy that TCU has. I hope I did right by the guys that came before me and made TCU what we are today. There’s a bunch of guys on this TCU team that will play in the NFL. We have a quite a few alumni that are playing in the league now and playing well. For me, I wanna prove that I belong in that group. It’s all about upholding the foundation and the legacy that they’ve laid down for us. I wanna play well for them.

JM: When a team drafts Ben Banogu, what kind of guy are they getting?

BB: I think they’re gonna get the most physical guy in the draft. I’m somebody that does things the right way. I never get in trouble and I give it 100% in everything I do. I wanna make the guys around me better.