The Carolina Panthers lost the majority of their wide receiving corps this past offseason, and they are relying on young, unproven players to be the go to guys for quarterback Cam Newton. One of those young, unproven players is rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
Benjamin was drafted with the 28th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and is already exciting the Panthers’ coaching staff and front office.
Benjamin caught 54 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns last season with Florida State, and is expected to be a very difficult match-up immediately for defenses in the NFL. At 6’5″ and 242 pounds, there will not be many cornerbacks that stand a chance matching up with him one on one. His size and athleticism certainly reminds a lot of people about Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, but it is way too early to be putting those two names in the same sentence.
“You draft him for a specific skill set. He can become a threat in the red zone and a threat for you on third down and have an immediate impact doing those things for us. It was good to see him do those things and good to see him work with Cam (Newton) as well. I’m excited as to where he’s heading and what he can become for us.” – Ron Rivera, head coach
It is always a good sign when a rookie receiver is able to come into town and make that much of an impression on the head coach immediately. He is going to have to step into a big role in the Panthers’ offense immediately, and Newton will need him to step up and make big plays in big games in his first season. Not only does the coaching staff feel excited about the future of Benjamin, the front office is looking forward to seeing him on the field as well.
“What goes through your mind is the possibilities. If you can’t do it in practice, you are not going to do it in a game. You look at the possibilities with his skills and what he’s capable of. It’s a confirmation of college scouting and the evaluation process. It’s fun, obviously.” – Dave Gettleman, general manager
Overall, this will be a very interesting name to watch over the next couple of months. He has already been improving and developing as a player since being drafted by the Panthers, and the coaching staff really believes that he is ready to step into a starting role this season. It will be very interesting to see what type of production he can put up, and how much trust he can earn from Newton right off the bat.