With the 28th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Panthers selected wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, a pass catcher at 6’5" 240lbs from Florida State.
While his size is impressive, his speed is not. Often, he struggles to get any type of separation from his defender, only running a 4.61 at the combine. However, looking at tape of Benjamin, there are times where the wide-out will break out and burn corners for big gains with his long strides. While he will struggle to gain separation in the NFL, his size will make up for it if he can work on his hands and become more consistent in his pass catching.
The biggest knock on Benjamin coming out of college are his consistent drops. He makes too many errors with his hands and it's not uncommon for the Florida State product to “run before he catches the ball." I also hate seeing him use his body to catch the ball as often as he does, along with having to double catch whenever he does not secure the ball as soon as his hands come into contact with the football. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3llpin2PFv4.
Drops are an aspect of a receiver’s game that can be improved over time. When you have a receiver’s coach like Ricky Proehl who helped Brandon LaFell with his dropping problem in his time in Carolina, it is easy for me to put faith in him improving.
Benjamin can take Steve Smith’s place as an elite blocker, as he is very skilled at securing corners on the outside. While I applaud his physical play, he has to make sure not to hold as he gets caught grabbing the jersey far too often.
While Benjamin has plenty of points of improvement, he also has plenty of things he's great at as well. In the end zone, Benjamin will be scary for opposing teams as he is the ultimate end zone threat at 6'5". He has the ability to jump over any player, make great sideline grabs, and is skilled at turning his head and adjusting to the football in the corner of the end zone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXWjWCzjEiA
"Clutch." That is the one word I would use to describe Benjamin. He made the winning touchdown catch in the BCS Title Game, was fantastic on third down in college, and lived up to huge moments throughout his career. The Panthers certainly should expect more of the same from him at the next level.
Many will tell you to be cautious of "one year wonder players" like Benjamin, but with Cam Newton at quarterback, don't be surprised if the Panthers' first round pick does wonders for the team next season. This is also a win for Cam as he finally has a big receiver to throw jump balls to.
I wish I could say this is a "sure thing" selection, but it is not. This is a very risky selection, as Kelvin Benjamin is a “boom or bust pick”. While I do like him as a player, I am very cautious of him based off of his weaknesses. His potential is the roof, however, and this could end up being the steal of the draft. The fact that the Panthers took less than 30 second to turn their pick in and passed over a highly touted Marqise Lee to take Benjamin tells me that the Panthers were sure of what they wanted. Gettleman has proven to be a good drafter, and that trend continued last night.
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