One of the biggest wide receivers in the draft, Kelvin Benjamin had a monster year last year. He posted 1,011 yards on just 54 receptions and had 15 touchdowns. At 6'5" and 240 pounds, Benjamin is a mismatch for nearly every corner in the NFL.
Benjamin will take his talents just a few states north, as he was drafted by the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have a completely rebuilt receiving corps, as their three top wideouts from last year, Steve Smith, Branden LaFell and Ted Ginn, all left via free agency. Benjamin figures to be the early favorite to be the number one receiver for Cam Newton.
Due to this, Benjamin will see a lot of targets and probably rack up a ton of catches his rookie year. This was seen in Newton's rookie year with Smith. Prior to Newton's arrival, Smith seemed to be hitting a decline in his career. Once Newton took the reins, Smith had a career revival, logging 79 catches for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns. The same scenario seems likely to play out again this season for Benjamin.
It would be no stretch of the imagination to see Benjamin put up numbers close to those. He has the tools necessary to be a reliable target for Newton and will be a favorite target in the end zone. He will be a massive size mismatch for nearly every corner in the division (fellow rookie Stanley Jean-Baptiste of the Saints is the tallest of the bunch at 6'3"). His 83-inch wingspan will create an incredible catch radius for Newton to throw to.
When he was first drafted, NFL Network's Mike Mayock was a little wary of the pick, stating:
He's 6-foot-5, 240 pounds with 35-inch arms, and you're talking about a catching radius. However, there's one thing about wide receivers with only one year of college production (like Benjamin at FSU) and it's a little sobering when you look at the names on that list: Stephen Hill, Greg Little, Devin Thomas, Anthony Gonzalez
While Mayock does make a legitimate point, it seems Benjamin is already putting some of those concerns to rest. According to David Newton of ESPN.com, he has impressed his coaches at his rookie minicamp by making an incredible catch, jumping into the air to catch the ball one-handed and come down with it with two defenders draped over him.
The main thing that could hold Benjamin back is his inexperience. As Mayock mentioned, he has had one good year of production, his 2013 totals dwarfing his 2012 numbers. If he progresses along quickly enough, he could have a legitimate shot at the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, but it is too much of a question mark to rank him any higher.