Carolina Panthers’ Kelvin Benjamin has looked every bit as good as the player that last crossed the goal line in the National Championship Game for Florida State this past January.
Randy Moss set the NFL-world ablaze with his eye-popping 1998 rookie season, and set a few records that are yet to be broken. Anquan Boldin pulled in over 100 receptions and nearly 1,400 yards during his rookie season.
Benjamin won’t eclipse 1,300-yards or catch 18 touchdowns this year, but he is primed to enjoy the best rookie season by a receiver in the past decade.
Kelvin Benjamin is an athletic and rangy wide receiver, trapped in a tight end’s body. His hands are the size of a catcher’s mitt and his catch radius is on par with Calvin Johnson.
At 6’5″, 235-pounds, his ability to shield defenders from the ball and as a redzone target is a quarterback’s dream. This dreamy receiver is going to be Cam Newton‘s best friend over the next decade in Carolina, and the young Newton will help engineer Benjamin’s breakout 2014 season.
Already the two players have created a chemistry that looks like something out of a Madden ’15 game. As long as Newton can get healthy and utilize his other weapons as a compliment to Benjamin, the two of them will enjoy several mind-melting games this year.
Every year there are players that come into the league with great numbers on paper or physical attributes that jump off the charts. Unfortunately, more times than not, the ceiling of these young players never come to fruition.
When the pre-draft buzz was circulating around the NFL combine and pro-days this past spring, Benjamin looked to be a player oozing with athletic potential, but far from an NFL-ready receiver that could contribute in 2014. Receivers Coach Ricky Proehl and Carolina’s front office saw a different player in front of their eyes.
Glancing around the league at Benjamin’s competition, there are viable candidates to challenge for ROTY.
Sammy Watkins in Buffalo, Mike Evans in Tampa, Andre Williams in the Blue New York and maybe Jace Amaro in the Green New York.
None of these players have a quarterback slinging the rock like Benjamin does in Carolina.
Even though it is merely preseason, the former Seminoles’ receiver has looked like a veteran against outmatched DBs. The Panthers’ Air Coryell style of vertical attack is predicated on timing, both on short routes, and deep homeruns. Benjamin has shown solid flashes at both of these depths.
Kelvin Benjamin is also coming into a system that is looking to reenergize its’ receiving unit. Flanked by a couple of veteran receivers that are solid #2 or #3-options on most NFL rosters, Benjamin is in a great position to compete for touches.
During the latter part of training camp, and in the three preseason games, Carolina’s coaching staff has put the rookie wideout in situations where he is the WR1. Facing one of the league’s top defense’s in practice everyday will also help facilitate his development into a top-flight receiver.
Coach Rivera recently told ESPN that they are purposely been rolling coverages over to him in practices to get Benjamin familiar with the focus being on him.
The rookie also has a few brilliant minds molding him and polishing his rough edges into platinum status.
Everytime Carolina gets inside the 20-yard line, Benjamin will be a primary focus of defensive coordinators. Visions of Plaxico Burress, Vincent Jackson and Brandon Marshall come to mind when watching KB13 play thus far.
Though he was the fifth receiver taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, Kelvin Benjamin will be the number one overall player in the ROTY voting.