Opinion Piece On Kelvin Benjamin



Among the Carolina fanbase, it is very divided as to who is and who isn't a fan of Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin.

At an initial glance, you see a 6'5" 240lb monster who caught the game winning touchdown in the BCS National Championship game against Auburn. Some analysts compare him to Chicago Bear's wide out Alshon Jeffery.

[HD] Alshon Jeffery Ultra Highlights (via xpose touchdowns)

Looking deeper, however, you discover that Benjamin doesn't quite possess the hands of Alshon Jeffery--who was making one-handed spectacular grabs during his tenure at South Carolina. Looking at the Florida State vs. Florida tape, Benjamin dropped two extremely easy passes and this is arguably the biggest red flag on Benjamin. Furthermore, Benjamin has shown poor ability as a blocker on the outside and is mediocre with his route tree. Speed was another aspect critics were questioning as they reviewed Benjamin's play.

Kelvin Benjamin Drops (2013) (via NU GAP)

My analysis: Kelvin Benjamin is not like Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery had zero questions about his catching ability, and it was more about his route running than anything else after a strong 40 time during the combine (4.48). Benjamin ran an official 4.61 40 time, but Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Jerry Rice and others have made it clear that a 40 yard dash in not indicative of future NFL success. Besides, no one expected Benjamin to run a 4.4 at 240lbs. What Benjamin proved at the combine was that he has the ability to become a legitimate #1 receiver at best, or a decent red zone target at the least.

What Kelvin Benjamin needs is a good coach to help him focus. The drops on film aren't so much as he simply can't catch, but more so a lack of focus trying to run before securing the ball. Benjamin has displayed plenty of times that he can locate the ball at the highest point and take it from the air and defenders; so it's not his skill in question. During the gauntlet, Benjamin performed really well and made sure he caught the ball away from his body; again, telling us that it's more his focus that needs to improve and not his ability to catch. While at the combine he ran a somewhat slow-ish 40, but his film tells us that he can create separation and get open down the field. Another thing he needs to work on is his route running. He's very sluggish and rounds his cuts. Again, this is something that can be coached with good leadership.

Ultimate Kelvin Benjamin Highlights | HD (via TheFootballman175)

Another aspect about Benjamin that I like to see is his desire to be a great teammate. He displays some maturity in this facet--which makes sense since he's already 23 years old. As long as Benjamin is willing to learn, get better and realize his weaknesses while keeping his strengths, I see no problem in drafting him with the 28th pick if he's available. He's a high character (on the surface at least), high ceiling kind of player and the knocks he has on his game are easily fixed with good coaching. Alshon Jeffery struggled with his routes coming out of college, but he's now one of the best offensive weapons in Chicago because route running is something that can be fixed. And while Jefferey never truly had an issue with drops, Benjamin's drops are not due to a lack of hand size, or ability; but merely mental lapses when he's trying to make a big play.

If Benjamin lands on the right team (Carolina, San Francisco, Baltimore, New England or Seattle), I think it'd be safe to say that he'll develop into a great wide receiver in the NFL. If he unfortunately lands with the likes of the Raiders, Browns or Jaguars who are plagued with poor coaching, leadership, Quarterback play and management, then I'd also think it's safe to say that Benjamin will never realize his full potential.

In short, the team who ultimately drafts Benjamin will dictate just how good he can become.



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