Kelvin Benjamin was a key part of Florida State’s national title team last season, with 54 receptions for 1,011 yards (18.7 yards per catch) and 15 touchdowns. That breakout season was enough to make him a first-round pick (28th overall) in May’s draft, and Benjamin will now likely step into a big role for the Carolina Panthers right out of the gate.
Benjamin has excellent size (6’5″, 240 lbs.) and long arms (35″) , which should allow him to at least be a suitable option for Cam Newton in the red zone this year. The Panthers lost Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon this offseason, and the talent downgrade that will replace them (Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Tiquan Underwood) gives Benjamin an immediate opportunity.
There are concerns about Benjamin’s lack of speed, and he needs to improve his consistency as a route runner and pass catcher after struggling with drops last year. The Panthers have a run-first offense (30.2 attempts per game in 2013; seventh-most in the league), and no wide receiver on the team has had more than five touchdowns in either of the last two seasons.
Benjamin’s size makes him a bit of a wide receiver/tight end tweener, and he did not drop weight despite reported pleas to do so from NFL teams during the pre-draft process.
At 23 years old Benjamin is older than a lot of rookies, particularly an underclassmen as he was.
Benjamin’s value in single-season leagues this year will hinge on his ability to score touchdowns, since it’s unrealistic to expect more than 50-55 receptions and 600-700 yards from him as a rookie. His value in dynasty leagues is very good, as could be expected, but even with the prospect of a big role I don’t see Benjamin being much more than a bye week fill-in this year. In certain scoring formats, particularly PPR leagues, he can probably be left alone on draft day.
Bye Week: Week 12
Projected Round: 10 or 11th Round (12-Team Leagues)
Auction Value: $9 (FF Toolbox.com; $200 budget)
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.