#C3's 1st RD Crew Review

Like it or not, the Carolina Panthers completed the 2014 draft.  The draft reminded us that it never goes down the way it’s forecasted. So how did we do? Check C’s rundown of Carolina’s 1st Rd selection, Kelvin Benjamin.  

Crew Review- B-

“The Professor”- This was a safe pick.  There were a lot of guys on the board who are more dynamic right
now than Benjamin. His sheer size alone, however, near ensures a certain degree of success. Gettleman alluded to this when he referenced Benjamin’s PQs (physical qualities), explaining frankly, “you can’t coach 6’5, 240 lbs.”  Although he lacks polish, this gigantic receiver should be able to go get the ball right away.  Gettleman described him as having a “big strike zone,” who will force defenses to scheme.  I’m guessing he will have respectable production and a fair amount of TDs in 2014.  Benjamin has nice upside with a limited amount of risk.  Don’t’ let anyone fool you though, this wasn’t a BPA selection.  This was need, availability, and risk-reward management.  This was a safe pick.

Grade: B+
“Freakin Puerto Rican”- I will admit the pick did not enamor me, but the big fellow is now a Panther and because of that I will pull for him. I realize he does have tremendous potential. First thing you notice about him is he is HUGE. At 6’5” 240 lbs he is the biggest receiver in the entire draft. He is a “hog molly” when it comes to the receiver position. When Cam misses a throw,  he generally misses high. Due to Benjamin’s size, Cam will have a difficult time throwing high to him. This move should be a real shot in the arm for Cam’s confidence. If receiver coach Rick Proehl can get maximum effort from Benjamin, we could have a dominant receiver on our hands, if not, we’ll have Dwayne Jarrett 2.0.
Grade: B

Willie P (aka Chocolate Wonderland) - To have a linemen with arms longer than 35" is amazing, when it's a wide receiver that's tough to pass up. A 6'5" 240 lbs receiver, with 10" hands and arms that are 35" long is one hell of asset. He's clutch, with the ability to high point and track the ball made him a first round talent. His best trait is that he's humble and have a willingness to learn--oh did I mention that he run blocks well and if he gets in the open field he just barrels dudes over? Grade: A "1st and Ken" - The good:He's huge with a massive catch radius. With Cam Newton's continued struggles with throwing the ball high, it's not that bad of an idea to have a hulking receiver able to haul in some of those errant throws. Although he doesn't play as physical as his 6'5" 230 lbs might suggest, I think it should be easy to teach him how to abuse defensive backs that give up 40 pounds and half a foot in height to him both after the catch and in run-blocking. Has a ceiling higher than all but a few of the receivers in the entire draft - the trick will be getting him to hit it.

The bad: Benjamin, a redshirt-sophomore, is a very young, raw talent who won't see his peak for 2-3 years. While he should help a bit in the red zone, I don't see him getting consistently open in crunch time early in his NFL career, forcing Cam to "throw it up" to him. As such, Cam won't be as pressured to be more accurate and could slow the QB's growth in that area as sort of a "law of unintended consequences." He's a "boom-or-bust" candidate and exactly the type of player you want to avoid in the first round. Nice upside, but a risky choice that likely won’t actually help the passing game much until he gets some experience under his belt - which means 2015 or 2016. There were other WRs with more experience in college on the board and I still remember the likes of one-year wonders….Greg Little and Stephen Hill. Hill’s nearly Benjamin’s size with sub-4.4 speed. Too risky for a top pick when more likely immediate producers such as Jordan Matthews and Allen Robinson were on the board. Robinson in particular could emulate Benjamin’s strengths with his own 6’2”+ frame and 39-inch vertical leap while being more polished with his route-running and is a better player at running after the catch than Benjamin is to begin with. “BPA” in this particular case refers to the ceiling they hope he has in a best-case scenario. Only time will tell if they got it right, but I just do NOT like the risk/reward here - nor the long learning curve in particular with Benjamin. Complicating the situation is that he’s a “tweener” - part WR and part TE. And we needed a LT more to begin with!

Grade: D

@PanthersDrafter -  There was as much hype and excitement going into this draft as any that I can remember.  Picking at 28 made the possibilities seem endless.  When we had the #1 pick, there was really two or three choices.  I mocked no less than 10 possibilities over the past four months of running simulations at DraftTek.  Benjamin was one of them but was early on.  A lot of time to speculate tends to lead to looking at what is wrong with a guy.  But obviously the Panthers saw what is right with the guy.    He had 15 TDs for the National Champions last year and will bring a huge matchup problem for our opponents.  6’5 240 4.6 40 is tough for anyone to match up against.

Though I was hoping for a Tackle at this Pick, I’m excited for the Benjamin pick because Cam has a WR to grow with now and the future is bright.  I see Benjamin as an improvement over the 2013 version of Steve Smith so I see our Offense improving.  Also, Benjamin will line up outside as well as in the slot.  Again, that is a mismatch all day long. Ultimately though, as a fan,  I especially love the humility this kid seems to possess.  He is a team-first guy and that is what we are building in Carolina.  Is it football season yet?

Grade: B

So what do you think PantherNation?  Tell us your grade on the Benjamin pick and be sure to watch out for our grades on picks 2-6.