Though most rookies usually take time to adjust to the NFL, Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin seems to be making quite a niche for himself according to reports. Benjamin, the first round selection for Carolina, has shown glimpses of brilliance in camp which is making the Panthers’ decision not to sign a premier free agent in the off-season look more shrewd.
While free agents Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery weren’t meant to be long-term fixtures, they were brought in to steady the eventual passing of the torch to the young Benjamin as the team’s number one receiver. Though it was expected that Benjamin was going to see the playing field more then the typical rookie, he has seemed to snatch the torch and looks to be on his way to the Panthers opening day lineup.
In the three day mini-camp, Panthers receiver
Kelvin Benjamin has worked with the first team in the offense’s three receiver sets and has impressed the team with a variety of difficult grabs in camp. In the mini-camp, Benjamin’s 6 foot 5, 240-pound frame was on full display as the former Florida State Seminole received praise from Head Coach Ron Rivera and General Manager David Gettleman. Gettleman, not a stranger to larger receivers was quoted as saying that Benjamin’s skill set is reminiscent of one of his former players, former All-Pro Plaxico Burress.
In an interview with the media following camp this weekend, coach Rivera had high complements for Benjamin. “You draft him for a specific skill set,” Rivera said. “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.”
Seeking to establish a base for future talent, the Panthers brass throughout the off-season didn’t seek to bring in a big name receiver who would steal chances for Carolina’s younger receivers to develop regardless of the cries of Panther nation. The Panthers brought in veterans who have not only made solid contributions to winning teams prior, but also are experienced receivers who would teach lessons to young and upcoming receivers.
It has been speculated by NFL analysts, the most difficult position to adjust to when players transition from the college game to the professional level in football is the wide receiver position. While the physical gifts of game changing speed and reliable hands are there, subtle changes from the college game has caused many a wide receiver to be chewed up, and spit out due to being unable to separate from their defender or the inability for precise route running. The list of high draft picks who failed to strike gold in the NFL seems as endless as the days until the NFL kicks off (72 days). For every home run in an A.J. Green, there are countless Reggie Williams ready to setback a franchise for a season or two.
This reason is why contemplating the selection of a wide receiver in the first round is always difficult for a GM to pull the trigger on. Especially a General Manager who had recently let go of the franchise’s greatest receiver and player in team history. Many fear that unless the receiver is a once in a generation talent (Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss), it is better to bring in a receiver who has proven his skills on the professional level rather than risking a draft pick on a potential bust.
Yet as reports have stated out of Panthers’ camp, first round selection Kelvin Benjamin is looking like a legitimate threat for the Panthers’s offense. With the all of the criticism placed by the media (including myself) and fans, perhaps we have been too quick to judge, as the Panthers may have stumbled upon another game changer who will certainly help them starting September 7th.