It happens every year at the NFL Scouting Combine. Eye-opening weigh-ins and jaw-dropping workouts send young men shooting up (or sometimes falling down) draft boards.
In 2014, one of the early eyebrow-raisers in Indianapolis is Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. If he shows off the speed he's promised to go with the size that already showed up, the pecking order at wide receiver in this draft may get thrown for a loop.
Big Man on Campus
When Benjamin's measurables were announced on Friday, the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine had its first "wow" moment.
Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin both measure in at 6'5 with approx. 35 inch arms. That's some length right there.— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) February 21, 2014
He also checked in at a chiseled 240 pounds. That's a big wide receiver, folks.
That size served him well at Florida State.
Per CFB Stats
Benjamin exploded as a redshirt sophomore for the national champion Seminoles in 2013, finding the end zone 15 times while averaging nearly 19 yards per catch.
The All-ACC performer saved his best for last.
Yes, Benjamin may have only had four catches for 54 yards in the BCS Championship Game, but his leaping touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was the deciding score in FSU's 34-31 win over Auburn.
Not a bad way to end a great year.
Eyes on His Size
Benjamin's size and length all but make him a small tight end, and as Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller pointed out, NFL scouts are sure to be intrigued by Benjamin's impressive physical gifts:
As a longtime NFL scout once told me, you can't coach size. And at 6'5" and 234 pounds, Benjamin is almost a tight end, but he moves with the grace of a wide receiver. If he can be coached up and become more consistent on easy pitch-and-catch plays, he has the tools to be a dominant NFL wide receiver.
However, Miller also calls him a "boom/bust" prospect with "big question marks on his scouting report."
Rob Rang of CBS Sports, meanwhile, saluted Benjamin's versatility and ability to play both outside and in the slot:
Experienced playing outside and in the slot and shows courage in crossing the middle. Tough to bring down in the open field, using his long arms to effectively stiff-arm defenders and showing suddenness to accelerate once the ball is in his hands. Attentive downfield blocker who works to seal off defenders as well as peel back to take out opponents in pursuit.
Of course, Rang then cautions that Benjamin is "still developing as a route-runner" and "drops too many passes."
|Ranker/Site||WR Rank||OVR Rank||Proj. Round|
|Matt Miller/Bleacher Report||10||64||2|
|Rob Rang/CBS Sports||4||25||1|
|Eric Galko/Optimum Scouting||8||47*||2|
|Charlie Campbell/Walter Football||4||23||1-2|
*QBs not included
Bleacher Report's Ryan McCrystal offers that Benjamin's "Rare combination of height, strength and speed gives him the potential to develop into a true No. 1 receiver."
However, McCrystal also goes on to say it will be awhile before that happens:
Benjamin is extremely talented, but he has a long way to go before reaching his full potential. He has admitted to lapses in focus and credits his improved maturity to his breakout 2013 season. But even during this past season he consistently failed to show field awareness and demonstrated numerous flaws in his technique.
The talent is there, but as edges go, his are pretty rough.
An Eye-Popping Pledge
Benjamin addressed concerns about his maturity and experience when speaking at the combine. According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, the receiver stated he's grown a lot over the past year mentally as well as physically: "Just growing up and being a man, I’ve learned to do the things you have to do to be a man. Before, I was basically just being a kid, doing kid things, not putting in the work you need to put in to be a great receiver."
With that said, his plans in the 40-yard dash caught everyone's attention.
Benjamin, who says he has four percent body fat, pledged to run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds.
Make no mistake: If he pulls off that feat, someone is going to swallow a whistle because so many mouths will flop open.
In fact, Rotoworld's Josh Norris doesn't think Benjamin's time even needs to be that gaudy:
If Kelvin Benjamin runs under a 4.5, every single fan base will go nuts.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) February 21, 2014
If he reels off a blistering 40 time, then "raw" can become "not cooked yet" in the minds of teams. Flaws in his game will become coachable errors.
Teams can't help it. That blend of size and speed is like 6'4" quarterbacks with big arms who can run. They're hypnotizing.
Mind you, admirer of Benjamin's physical gifts though he may be, Miller wouldn't draft him in the first round of May's NFL draft.
However, 6'5", 240-pound wide receivers with 4.4 speed don't generally make it out of the first round, so a fast time for Benjamin would all but certainly make him a Day 1 pick.
If Al Davis were still alive, it would put him in the top five.