This is in response to the Terry Beidleman - the hardest working fan on Cat Scratch Reader - post on the topic. Let me preface this by saying that A) the player that I really want at #28 is Cyrus Kouandjio and I am hoping that he tells some GM to "get out of my face" during the combine so he drops to the Panthers and B) there are several WRs that I like better (both at #28 and in a scenario where the Panthers address OT or CB in the first and get a WR later) than Benjamin. That being said, if the Panthers do take Benjamin at #28, I am cool with it. Here is why.
1. Please realize that at least half of the "can't miss" picks do in fact miss. I repeat: a lot of "safe picks" like Jordan Matthews do in fact bust, or are no better than mediocre. (FYI: I like Matthews not because he is a "safe pick" but because I saw him dominate the SEC with mediocre talent around him - including QBs who had difficulty getting the ball downfield because of lack of arm strength and or lack of protection - for 2 years.) Trust me, if the "safe picks" panned out even 75% of the time, then "safe picks" is all that would be taken in the first 3 rounds because it is better to be sure of being able to plug in a good, capable player that will hold a spot for the next 6-8 years than to take a 50-50 (or less) chance on a Pro Bowler. The very reason why gambles are taken is because the guys who played hard every down, were the first to get to the practice field/weight room and the last to leave, graduated in 4 years (and in a real major no less), and were all-conference for 3 years and all-american were 2 still wind up as benchwarmers who are out of the league by the end of their rookie contracts.
2. Kelvin Benjamin is not as risky a project as he seems. He graduated high school at age 20? Because of issues that he had in grades 3 and 7, not in high school. He is 23 years old? Well Brandon LaFell was 24 years old his rookie year! LaFell was 6 months older as a rookie than Benjamin will be. As LaFell also had a redshirt year, the only real difference between LaFell and Benjamin in terms of age issues is that LaFell came back for his senior year.
3. His lack of productivity in college is entirely explainable and in context isn't even a concern at all. Why he didn't do more earlier in his college career? Basically because it just started. Benjamin redshirted his first season. His second season, he was a backup behind Rodney Smith, a senior who was statistically one of the top 25 WRs ever to play at FSU and is now a Minnesota Viking. (Smith went undrafted because of a slow 40 time, but the Vikings gave him a shot as an UDFA and he stuck.) Why didn't Benjamin start on the other side? Because Rashad Greene, an outstanding player and a much better fit at X receiver (Benjamin and Smith played the Z spot) did. Greene had 75 catches for 1128 yards this season. Were Greene 6'1" 190 lbs instead of 5'11" 175 lbs, he most certainly would have come out for the draft also instead of coming back for his senior season. But the point is that even as a backup for an absolutely loaded WR corps (7 guys caught at least 20 passes and 5 guys had more than 350 yards receiving), Benjamin still put up 30 catches for 495 yards and 4 TDs. Ultimately here's the thing: had Benjamin gone to a school other than FSU, he is likely a starter from day one instead of redshirting and being a backup for a season. But when you consider the talent that FSU recruits at WR, his getting 30 catches as a redshirt freshman and becoming a starter as a redshirt sophomore was no small achievement.
So would we like a guy who started more than 1 season? Yes. Would we like a guy who wasn't a 22-23 year old man competing against teenagers (and for a loaded FSU team against the overmatched ACC)? Yes. Would we like a guy who has fewer drops and is a better route runner? Yes. But is a guy with Benjamin's tools but minus those issues going to be available at #28? Of course not. Such a guy would be a top 10 pick and possibly a top 5 pick.
So like I said, I am really hoping that Kouandjio, who would start this year at RT and next at LT, drops. (It won't happen.) I really like Matthews of Vanderbilt and people have sold me on Robinson of Pennsylvania at WR at #28. And I also really like getting a RT or a CB at #1 and getting Brandin Cooks, Paul Richardson or Donte Moncrief in the 2nd or 3rd. But if Gettleman sticks with the Giants' known preference for bigger WRs (and we can include TE Jeremy Shockey in this also) who can make plays in the vertical game and red zone and takes Benjamin, I don't have a problem with it. I REALLY think that the "Benjamin's floor is cooking fries at Denny's" are out of line when had Benjamin simply gone to a school with lesser talent (like Texas A&M maybe?) and as a result landed a starting job earlier no one would have these "red flags" associated with him.