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Draft Profile: WR Benjamin more than just a big target

Posted Apr 18, 2014

Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin knows he's got to improve his drop rate at the NFL level along with some other facets of his game. But there's no denying his upside.


Former Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin is a matchup nightmare for any defense. Not only is he 6-foot-5 with an 83” wingspan, but with his 32.5” vertical jumping ability he has the athleticism to grab just about any ball thrown in his general vicinity.

After just two seasons catching passes at FSU after redshirting in 2011, Benjamin has shown enough potential on tape to be considered a mid-first round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

“In today’s NFL with the advent of the back-shoulder fade, which I think has changed the whole way we’re drafting now, Benjamin and [Texas A&M WR Mike Evans] are today’s NFL,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said.

But Benjamin can do more than just catch jump balls on fade routes. He played both in the slot and outside in college and routinely took short catches and turned them into big gains.

Benjamin has drawn comparisons to Plaxico Burress and Bears WR Alshon Jeffery because of his size and skill set.

With only three years of high school experience and two years in college, Benjamin has yet to refine some parts of his game. He could have caught even more than the 54 balls for 1011 and 15 TDs he did in 2013 if it were not for a drop rate of over nine percent. With more coaching he should also become a more precise route runner, another perceived weakness among NFL scouts.

Benjamin acknowledges his weaknesses and admits he has room for improvement. 

“That was one of my problems,” Benjamin said, referring to his consistency catching the ball. “Seeing the yards before I start to run and I wound up dropping the ball. That’s something I really have to work on. Once you catch it, you just have to keep moving, keep your legs going and get up field and everything else will take care of itself.”

Despite his relative inexperience in football, Benjamin has experience on big stages. He had five receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the ACC Championship game against Duke, and four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown in the BCS National Championship game win over Auburn.

While the championship game numbers may appear modest, he did come up with the most important play in that game, the game-winning two-yard touchdown catch with 13 seconds left.

“It was a simple slant route. I knew (head coach) Jimbo (Fisher) was coming back to me,” said Benjamin. “Whenever there was a catch on the line or a touchdown on the line he was coming back to me. I knew he (the DB) was thinking fade and so I tried to sell him on that fade route. Three steps out I got inside of him and just did what I do best, which is attack it at the highest point.”

Benjamin would bring a unique combination of size and athleticism to the Bills passing game. There is also a connection between he and Bills QB EJ Manuel, who were teammates in 2012 when Benjamin had 30 receptions for 495 yards and four touchdowns.

“At the end of the day they care about the team,” Benjamin said of Manuel and FSU QB Jameis Winston. “That’s what they care about most of all. And they care about their receivers. E.J. and Jameis, both of them, if you have an off the field problem, you can go to them and they’ll be there to talk to you.”

The Bills pick at number nine is generally seen as slightly too early to pick up Benjamin. However, Buffalo has a history of trading out of the top 10 to the latter parts of the first round to take Florida State prospects - as they did with Manuel in 2013.