The Carolina Panthers had a few close calls in the first round, but survived a minefield of surprising picks to select Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin with the 28th overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Benjamin is a raw but fascinating player who has unmatched size in this draft. At 6'5, 240 lbs he immediately offers Cam Newton a huge target in the end zone, as well as a mismatch nightmare for opposing corners. This selection is a risk, a gamble -- one that could be damaging but also an absolute steal if he can be coached up.
There was a very real possibility Benjamin would be taken by the Kansas City Chiefs or Philadelphia Eagles, but both teams made shock picks and selected pass rushers.
Expectations will be very high for Benjamin fill Smith's void, but it's important to have patience. This is a player who needs time and development to become a more polished route runner. Selecting him is as much of a vote for Ricky Proehl as it is Benjamin, with the Panthers wide receivers coach becoming the most integral member of the coaching staff.
There might be some criticism about passing on Marqise Lee, but upside is king in the NFL -- Benjamin simply has more.
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