Friday, May 9, 2014
Now that the Panthers have picked Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin at No.28, what does that mean? Well....
1. One of the underrated parts of this pick if it works out: It will improve the Panthers' running game, especially at the goal line. Panther general manager Dave Gettleman said having Benjamin at wideout won't allow other teams to put eight players in the box. While that may be an oversimplification, if Benjamin produces -- especially in the end zone -- it could certainly help the run game that got stuffed too many times in the San Francisco playoff game and at other times last season. (Here is my column about the pick of Bejamin in general terms).
2. Benjamin's route-running can be improved, Gettleman acknowledged in response to a question. Then again, Gettleman said the only wide receiver in the draft whose route running is beyond question is former LSU star Odell Beckham (taken by the New York Giants at No.12 overall).
3. Although Benjamin just finished his redshirt sophomore year at Florida State, he is 23 years old. That's because he failed two grades before he got to high school. Due to being too old according to Florida high school standards, he wasn't allowed to play in the final couple of games of his senior year. Gettleman said that Benjamin has plenty of football smarts and that he proved it several times when the Panthers put him "on the board" and had Benjamin diagramming plays and coverages.
4. I liked the way Benjamin handled his first questions as a Panther. He sounded humble and genuinely happy. "I'm not looking at it like taking Steve Smith's spot," Benjamin said. "I'm just wanting to be the best that I can be." And if Benjamin catches a few of Cam Newton's overthrows, so much the better.
5. How good can he be? Benjamin is not a burner -- his 40 time is in the low 4.6 range. Neither was Muhsin Muhammad, though, and he was the Panthers' second-best WR ever behind No.89. Gettleman said Benjamin improved dramatically in the final four games of Florida State's season, and the Panthers believe he will continue to get better. And, as Gettleman kept saying: "You can't coach 6-foot-5, 240." (Note: Benjamin has played in the Panthers' stadium before -- he scored FSU's first TD on a 14-yard pass in the Seminoles' 45-7 rout of Duke in the ACC title game in December and scored again later on a 54-yard throw from Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston).
Posted by Scott Fowler at 12:53 AM