What do you get with 6’5″, 235 lbs, 4.5 40 yard dash time, 40-inch vertical leap, and 96-inch wing span? The answer: Kelvin Benjamin. How often in our lifetime do we see a college player like this at the WR position? Very rarely, except in the case of Calvin Johnson. He’s like Megatron, but a little slower. He’s like Alshon Jeffery, but a little faster. He is a faster and more athletic version of Plaxico Burress, who was a pretty good player for the Steelers.
Sure, there are a lot of questions about his focus and concentration, inconsistent effort, lackadaisical running style, experience, and being ‘raw’ overall, but his upside is tremendous and projects to be a ‘beast’ at the next level if he cleans some things up, gets coached up, and plays in the right system. He showed continual improvement in college and is still growing in the position. He is best suited in a pro-style offense as opposed to a west coast offense. Let’s look at his numbers against some pretty good competition. Last season with Florida St., Benjamin caught 54 balls for over 1,000 yards with a whopping 18.7 yards per catch and 15 touchdowns, which led the ACC and tied a Florida St. record. During the season, he burned Florida CB Loucheiz Purifoy from the slot, who is a good CB, and the Florida secondary with a stat line of 9-212 and 3 TD’s while breaking three tackles en route to the end zone for one of those touchdowns. He also caught the game-winning TD against Auburn in the National Championship game displaying his leaping ability. Not too shabby.
Kelvin Benjamin, plain and simple, is a nightmare to cover. He is a physical mismatch and intimidating versus any cornerback, safety, and linebacker. He can overwhelm them in the running game with a crunching block. He is basically a power forward in pads, and like a good rebounder in basketball, will climb the ladder, pluck the ball at its highest point, and snatch the ball out of the air with his exceptional body control, grace, and fluidity. Benjamin is not easily knocked off his route and has the overall strength, length, and catching radius that will demand extra coverage to roll his way. He has good separation speed and YAC, which is such an important WR trait these days. Benjamin can not be taken down very easily. He surprisingly adjusts well to the low ball and finds the ball over his shoulder with ease.
The Steelers have told Ben Roethlisberger that they will get him a big target in the early rounds of the draft. Roethlisberger would love to have a big receiver he can throw the ball up to in the red zone. Kelvin Benjamin will not last until the second round. I don’t see any other receivers in this draft class, other than Mike Evans (who will go first round) that possess his physical qualities. I like Benjamin a little better than Evans, especially in the area of length, fluidity, and the ability to win the jump ball. He appears to have more athleticism and natural quickness than Evans and a better package of skills for the NFL. Benjamin’s size and playmaking ability would be a perfect complement to Antonio Brown. I don’t see the Steelers paying Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown has become a legit No. 1 receiver. Getting Benjamin to play opposite Brown makes a lot of sense. A big knock on Kelvin Benjamin has been his hands and propensity to drop balls. If you recall Steeler fans, Sanders dropped quite a few himself and doesn’t nearly have the ability to do the things Mr. Benjamin can do. There have been many guys in the NFL that drop balls, but make a ton of plays that you can sometimes live with it (Terrell Owens, Brandon Marshall, and Calvin Johnson). If Benjamin can come close to what Megatron has done, then that’s a bonus.
If they decide to go for a WR, I don’t think the Steelers can afford to pass up Kelvin Benjamin in the first round. The WR class is deep in this year’s draft, but very few that have the physical attributes and upside of Benjamin. His ceiling is very high and his best football is yet to come. If they choose him with the 15th pick, let’s hope he doesn’t turn out to be another Limas Sweed.