With that said, Seattle’s roster still has its weak points like any other club. One of those areas where improvement is needed is at wide receiver.
Healthy seasons from Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice in 2014 could help ease concerns about the corps, but neither player should be relied upon to provide durability considering both have missed significant action in recent seasons. And while Russell Wilson is one of the game’s best young quarterbacks, Seattle’s passing attack only ranked 26th in 2013.
Thus, many draft analysts expect the Seahawks to target a receiver as early as Thursday night’s first round. It’s an incredibly deep class at the position, with as many as seven receivers potentially bound to hear their name called in Round 1.
Who will be the top wideout left when the Seahawks are on the clock at pick No. 32 overall? It could be Indiana‘s Cody Latimer. It could be Penn State‘s Allen Robinson. Maybe Vanderbilt‘s Jordan Matthews will be the most tempting option. A lot obviously depends on how Seattle slots the talented crop of pass catchers and how the first 31 selections play out. But an under-the-radar option who shouldn’t be ruled out is Florida State‘s Kelvin Benjamin.
Originally thought of as a likely first-round choice, Benjamin has seen his stock plummet due to concerns about his ability to separate against speedy NFL cornerbacks. It’s a legitimate concern as many of Benjamin’s receptions were contested at the collegiate level. With that concern in mind, some have even suggested moving Benjamin to tight end in the NFL.
Still, he’s arguably equipped to consistently win in contested situations, even at the NFL level. A 6-foot-5 frame, a rare 83-inch wingspan and the ability to high-point the football better than perhaps any other receiver in the draft suggests Benjamin could be a matchup nightmare for defensive backs and linebackers alike.
Benjamin is able to adjust his body to make difficult catches more effectively than most athletes of his size. He’s the type of mammoth target who could drastically improve the Seahawks’ ability to score touchdowns in the red zone and could become a security blanket for Wilson wherever he’s lined up. His massive-catch radius would complement the speed and explosiveness a healthy Percy Harvin brings to Seattle’s passing game nicely.
There are, without a doubt, many things Benjamin needs to refine at the next level. He enters the draft with loads of potential, but no shortage of rawness. With improved route running and more consistent concentration, though, his ceiling rivals that of star receivers of his mold, like Alshon Jeffery and Demaryius Thomas.
Perhaps Benjamin can realistically be had in the second round and safer receivers will be available after 31 picks. But it’s not ridiculous to think Benjamin is being undervalued entering the draft and is worthy of the No. 32 overall choice. His upside makes him far from the Seahawks’ worst option in the first round.
Cody Strahm is an NFL author for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.