Kelvin Benjamin is making a name for himself early

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers first round pick is already catching the attention of the front office after OTAs.

There are few teams more deserving of draft criticism over the last decade than the Carolina Panthers. Scores of mid-late round picks proved to be disasters and there's very little talent still on the roster to show from recent drafts. Those problems are quickly mitigated if an organization is routinely hitting on their first round selections, now Kelvin Benjamin seems to be the next in line.

It's too early to compare Benjamin to Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly or Star Lotulelei -- but the 28th overall pick seems well on the way, at least according to Dave Gettleman and company.

Highlight reel catches became a regular occurrence during team activities, and it felt like every day we were rewarded with one report of a crazy reception that nobody else on the roster could make. This alone has the Panthers GM excited.

"What goes through your mind is the possibilities," Gettleman said in regards to Benjamin's practice performance. "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."

Part of his job as GM is to make fans feel better about the pick, especially one as polarizing as Benjamin --  but it's a comfort to hear Gettleman saying his pick is confirming what the team saw in scouting so quickly. This doesn't change the fact the rookie wide receiver is a work in progress, but rather a tacit understanding that the team understands they can use him to win immediately in certain areas.

Benjamin will stay in Charlotte and continue to work with Newton while he rehabilitates, rather than leaving and heading home before training camp. It's a small but vital gesture that proves the rookie is willing to put the work in to learn the offense and develop a rapport with his quarterback. Naysayers heaped criticism on Benjamin for perceived "laziness" or "lack of work ethic," but that hasn't reared its head -- at least so far.

There's a long way to go. When training camp and preseason begins we'll get a better sense of where he's at developmentally, but fans should be very excited that the organization feels like they've hit on the first round pick, again.

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