NFL offenses are always looking for an edge. Sometimes that advantage is the scheme, and sometimes the advantage is purely a physical one. When you talk about physical advantage, Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin might be the definition of it.
“I really just want to make my own identity,” Benjamin said when asked during a press conference about his desired role in the NFL. “Be that player that a lot of these guys growing up want to be.”
Well, he certainly achieved that during the NFL Scouting Combine.
Benjamin impressed from the minute he arrived at the combine. Coming in at 6'5" and a chiseled 240 pounds, he casts an imposing shadow. Add 34.875" arms and 10.25" hands, and it is easy to understand why many consider him a first-round pick.
The one part of Benjamin's game that he had a chance to highlight at the combine was his speed. Obviously, when you are a massive target with a huge catch radius, being able to get behind a secondary isn't vitally important. But that doesn't change that many teams look at numbers like the 40-yard dash with reverence.
|Height||Weight||Arm||Hands||40 (1st att.)||10 yard||40 (2nd att)||10 Yard||Bench|
|6'5"||240||34 7/8||10 1/4||4.59||1.66||4.53||1.62||13|
Fortunately for Benjamin, he came out prepared and did what he had to do in order to keep his speed from being a concern. His first attempt was 4.59 seconds, and he followed it up with an even more impressive 4.53 (unofficial).
It seems Twitter agrees that Benjamin's game doesn't require an elite 40 time, but it helps.
FootballGuys.com writer Sigmund Bloom saw enough on film:
Kelvin Benjamin created consistent deep separation on tape. I don't really care what he clocks in the 40. Speed = good enough to scare you— Sigmund Bloom (@SigmundBloom) February 23, 2014
Seminoles.com editor Brandon Mellor seemed impressed:
Meanwhile, Bleacher Report's Lead NFL Draft Analyst Matt Miller offered a bit of caution:
Here's my Kelvin Benjamin thought: Someone will draft him Rd1. Not saying they should, but they will.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 23, 2014
Benjamin's performance in drills will also be key to his draft stock. Can a man that big show fluidity and ease of movement? Does his length force him to tip his routes, and can he work against the quickness of NFL secondaries?
An area of Benjamin's game that has plagued him this season is inconsistency. You can literally watch one game and get everything he does great and everything he does poorly in a single drive. Drops in particular are an area where Benjamin can be maddening. A player his size shouldn't make easy catches seem hard.
This was another area where Benjamin atoned for poor film with drills. One of the most telling drills of the combine is the gauntlet. This is where a receiver has to react quickly while running the width of the field, catching passes coming at him rapid-fire from both directions.
If there was a spot where one would assume Benjamin would fall flat, it would have been here. However, you can see his combine prep had him prepared. Benjamin flowed through the drill smoothly and showed very active hands. He plucked the football from the air, not letting it get into his body. It is this sort of consistent effort and commitment to improvement that will help him secure a first-round spot.
By contrast, Benjamin continues to look a bit awkward coming off the snap. He is not a fluid athlete in his lower body, which means teams will be able to give him cushion and not contend with his strength. Benjamin needs to improve that five-yard quickness off the ball, where he can get into the defensive back's body.
Overall, Benjamin helped himself with his combine performance. His set of skills is pretty unique even in this draft class. This almost assures him a spot in the first round. It will be up to a coaching staff to work on some of the more subtle parts of his game where his big frame limits him.