Why Canadian lineman Theo Benedet is confident he can thrive with the Chicago Bears amidst plenty of change

There's plenty different on a Friday afternoon at Halas Hall for Theo Benedet.

For starters, the scene is new. The University of British Columbia, where he played college football, is 2,162 miles away from Lake Forest, Illinois.

The football scene is new, too. Benedet played for the UBC Thunderbirds, which is far from the same conference as Alabama, Ohio State or Georgia. He noticed this at the East-West Shrine game.

Not only do the defensive linemen line up one yard closer to the line of scrimmage, but the linebackers hit much harder, too.

"They came downhill right away" Benedet said. "That took me a minute to get adjusted to."

Once he got adjusted, however. There was no doubt in his mind. 

Benedet knew he could play at this level. He carries that confidence into Bears mini camp this week as an undrafted free agent looking to stick on a team that's looking to capitalize on its rebuild.

"As we've gone into one-on-ones, I'm going against guys from Ohio State and stuff, and I'm beating them," Benedet said. "That's when your confidence starts to grow."

Benedet had options after the end of his college career.

Benedet started every game on the Thunderbirds' offensive line since his first year of college in 2019. That got him on the CFL radar.

September 09, 2023: Action during a Men's USports football game between between the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the University of Calgary Dinos at Thunderbird Stadium, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. (Photo

But, in Benedet's first years at UBC a coach sat him down and told him that the NFL would be on his radar if he kept putting a priority on football.

He could have stuck in the Canadian Football League draft, been a surefire pick and have a guaranteed roster spot in the CFL where he's used to the rules. Benedet decided to try his hand at the NFL.

That's where the best of the best were playing.

"I understand that it's not going to be given to me down here and I'm going to have to beat guys out," Benedet said. "But I'm ready to do that and I think I can maximize myself as a player playing here as opposed to in Canada where there's certainly a high level of competition."

"I want to be with the best."

Benedet was one of the best in Canada. His head coach testified to that.

"Theo Benedet is arguably the best player that I've ever had the opportunity to coach," UBC head coach Blake Nill said in a statement after Benedet signed with the Bears. "He had a lot of attention in the last two years and made an unselfish decision to come back to UBC when he didn't have to and showed what kind of teammate he was and how important UBC Football was to him."

Football is important to Benedet because it was his choice.

He said he was a high-level soccer goalie in high school and had to choose between football and soccer at the collegiate level.

Benedet began playing football in his sophomore year in high school, and chose to continue that path at UBC. That path led him to the Chicago Bears.

"That kind of really sparked it in me," Benedet said. "I can do this if I make the right decisions, make the right investments in my development, and ultimately I was lucky to have a payoff."

The payoff for Benedet could have come elsewhere. He said he had offers from 10 NFL teams. The three teams that were the most competitive were the Bears, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers.

It came down to the Bears' coaching staff having an interest in Benedet, which materialized in the Bears visiting him multiple times in British Columbia.

"Him signing with Chicago is a great match," Nill said in a statement. "They've probably been up three or four times in the last calendar year to watch him and now they've got a great athlete coming in there."

September 09, 2023: Action during a Men's USports football game between between the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the University of Calgary Dinos at Thunderbird Stadium, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. (Photo

Plus, Benedet thought of what it would mean to play play with an offense that now includes Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze, D'Andre Swift and more.

"With Caleb Williams, Rome, all those guys, I mean, who wouldn't wanna be a part of that?" he said.

Benedet fits the Bears with his versatility, too.

In his first day of mini camp, Benedet played at guard but said he was told to be ready to play all across the line. That's fine with him, because he knows that's his path to the final 53.

"I understand my path to the 53 will probably be as a backup sixth, seventh guy," Benedet said. "If I can fill in at all five positions, I think that helps me get on the roster."

Still, Benedet needs to do his best to make an impression first. He's gotten the Canada novelty part of camp over with.

He's gotten some fun questions – "Do you live in an igloo?" Benedet recounted – and shared the difference in size between American football fields with Canadian football fields.

Benedet believes he was able to show his strengths on Day 1 of rookie mini camp, and has the confidence that he can shake off the small mistakes he made Friday.

All of that lies in the confidence Benedet found in the pre-draft process and the faith the Bears' coaching staff put with him.

Benedet carries that with him in Lake Forest over 2,000 miles away from home.

"You're made for this level," Benedet said.


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