Now that the dust has settled from the 2014 NFL Draft let the overanalyzing begin. Usually, when a team picks so late in the first round, the draft pick doesn’t always have the opportunity to contribute right away. The opposite is true for Kelvin Benjamin. I’ll break down why I believe Benjamin is the Carolina Panthers biggest get from the draft.
The best thing about the Kelvin Benjamin pick can be found in inches. 77 of them to be exact.
The buzz word that General Manager Dave Gettleman kept using to describe Benjamin was size. It’s hard to not see that especially when you watch the former Florida State product on tape. The addition of Benjamin gives the Panthers something they haven’t had since Muhsin Muhammad left Charlotte, a big physical receiver who is a threat to score every time in the red zone.
Benjamin prides himself on his ability to change games in the red zone (check his twitter handle), something the Panthers offense struggled with at times last season. Instead of playing the game DeAngelo-against-the-whole-49ers-defense, it will be interesting to see how quickly OC Mike Shula will put Benjamin to use, especially in the red zone.
Another thing Benjamin has plenty of besides suits from the Big and Tall store, is upside. A lot of time scouts use that term when they’re trying to describe an impact or bust player.
You don’t have to look far to find detractors who think Benjamin will be a bust. Benjamin is someone who only had one full year of college production in which he amassed 15 touchdowns to go along with 1,011 receiving yards. Simply put, Benjamin hasn’t really begun to tap into his potential. A lot of times receivers who go to the NFL with one full year at their position under their belt they can be disappointing (see Stephen Hill, Devin Thomas, Greg Little, and Anthony Gonzalez) He’s going to have a great position coach in former NFL receiver Ricky Proehl to ensure that he’ll be ready to take on the task.
While Benjamin excels in the red zone as discussed above, he also excels in another area the Panthers desperately need: a receiver with a knack for the big play.
A lot of Benjamin’s film shows him making catches in tight coverage that result in touchdowns. There’s a reason why FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher dialed up a pass play to Benjamin with 13 seconds and a BCS title on the line. Ironically, the one player the Panthers had who thrived on making big plays is now a Baltimore Raven. I’m not in any way saying that Benjamin is on the same level as Steve Smith but I believe if given time, Benjamin can have the same effect on a game that Smith had during his prime.
The pick of Kelvin Benjamin was an excellent choice for the Panthers. Not just because it was a pick that addressed a serious area of need for the team, but because it also followed through on the Dave Gettleman mantra of picking the best player available. There is a lot of optimism surrounding Benjamin much like there would be for any first round draft pick. I believe Kelvin Benjamin will be worth the hype. Let’s hope I’m right.
– The Panthers added even more depth (or hog molly if you prefer) to their defensive line by signing DT Drake Nevis off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars last week
– At long last Carolina signed an offensive tackle but had to go over the border to get him. Canadien David Foucault signed with the team after the conclusion of the Panthers rookie mini-camp. Eh.