Bene Benwikere, cornerback, San Jose State.
Carolina saw value at cornerback and pursued it by taking Benwikere out of San Jose State following a trade with the Minnesota Vikings that sent the 148th and 225th picks to Minnesota for the rights.
Trade details: Vikings give No. 148 to Carolina in exchange for Panthers' No. 168 (5th rd) and No. 225 (7th rd)— Star Tribune Sports (@StribSports) May 10, 2014
The Panthers seemed poised to convert their previous pick, Tre Boston, from a safety to a corner. After the recent events that have transpired, that may not be the case.
Benwikere has good size even though he may need to work on his strength training. He was only able to do 10 reps on the 225-pound bench press. However, he has his upside. He will compete against and battle receivers for the ball. According to his scouting report, that is one of his better qualities.
While in college, he turned in a brilliant performance against Louisiana Tech with a three-interception game. He knows how to create turnovers, as he was responsible for 16 of them while playing for the Spartans.
He displayed excellent leaping ability with a 40.5-inch jump at the combine back in March. This will allow him to compete for many jump balls.
Critics will be quick to dismiss his accomplishments because of the lack of competition or the inferiority of it, but anyone who gets involved and constantly makes plays is the kind of guy who can help a team win. Dave Gettleman has seen this and feels Benwikere has a lot of value and potential to do great things for Carolina.
Benwikere may be a cornerback, but he could be a jack-of-all-trades-type player where he is assigned to multiple positions based on matchups and situations. He has experience playing cornerback, nickelback and safety. So, it won't be unusual to see him utilized in a variety of ways.
He will compete for a job in camp, but based on his versatility, he could be a rotational player who may fill in at different times. As mentioned, it may be a certain situation or he could spell one of his teammates.
Benwikere may bring some injury concerns with him, as he had arthroscopic knee surgery following an MCL tear while in high school. Fortunately, it seems like something that has not plagued him in college, but it is something for the Carolina training staff to keep in mind.
His scouting report at CBS Sports describes him in one paragraph:
Benwikere lacks elite size, speed and strength for the position, but is a cerebral football player with reliable ball skills and a knack for putting himself in proper position to make plays on the ball. He needs to be more consistent in run support to see snaps at the NFL level, but his competitive nature and versatility will give him a fighting chance.
Despite some issues regarding his tackling technique, he was able to register 214 of them over the course of his collegiate career, and 11.5 of those were for a loss. With that in mind, he will fit perfectly with the Carolina defensive scheme.
He will have some good competition in camp, and the summer should be eventful as far as position battles are concerned.
Welcome to the Carolina Panthers, Bene Benwikere!
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