One big catch after another, Kelvin Benjamin continues to prove his potential in the Carolina Panthers offense throughout his rookie preseason.
Newton failed to connect with Benjamin with his first few throws to the rookie, but Benjamin's first reception was a big one, per The Associated Press' Steve Reed:
Cam Newton finally hooks up with Kelvin Benjamin for a 24-yard gain. CAR at the KC 26 and looking for more points.— Steve Reed (@SteveReedAP) August 18, 2014
Receptions of 24 yards and 17 yards were all of the impact that Benjamin had, but it could've been much more. He was open on a few occasions when Newton just missed him.
One of those instances might have resulted in six points, as Panthers.com's Max Henson observed:
Newton overthrows Kelvin Benjamin deep down the sideline. Benjamin had some serious separation.— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) August 18, 2014
As a first-round pick on a team with no receiver depth, Benjamin figured to be a key contributor to the Panthers offense. Two preseason games can be a small measuring stick, but that's exactly what he's proven to be thus far.
The former Florida State star was heralded for his big-play prowess and the ability to high-point balls over defenders, as he did on his championship-winning catch against Auburn in the BCS title game. He proved that ability with a 29-yard touchdown in his preseason debut and again Sunday with a number of big plays.
NFL Philosophy captured his insane measurements, which tower over those of other NFL wideouts:
Kelvin Benjamin measurables vs. other WRs: pic.twitter.com/zOoF11riAE— NFL Philosophy (@NFLosophy) August 18, 2014
Newton has shown the ability to make his receivers big-time fantasy options when he's firing on all cylinders. Should he have a season similar to the one he put up in 2013, multiple Panthers wideouts will be fantasy relevant—with Benjamin at the top.
Growing pains can stunt rookies' abilities to make impacts early on, but that doesn't seem to be the case with Benjamin. He's having no trouble making his supreme skill set carry over to the NFL.
The rookie talked about his growth and the adjustment to playing in games instead of practice.
"That’s everything," Benjamin said, per the Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Jones. "Game speed is totally different from practice. So we just have to get out there and go over the plays we went over in practice, go out and try to be sound on everything we do."
So far, he's adjusting just fine.
Benjamin was already a draftable fantasy option prior to his preseason breakout, but his impact early on paints the picture of just how valuable he can be. If he continues to make big plays, he should be a strong flex option in standard fantasy leagues.