When Brandon Beane traded for Kelvin Benjamin, he picked up a high-caliber player who has underperformed for the last few years. But in all fairness to the fourth-year veteran (third if you don't count the 2015 season), Benjamin has been dealing with leg injuries in every season since his rookie year. But here are three reasons Benjamin's game could take off in his first full season with the Bills.
He's healthy It was clear watching Benjamin last season that he was nowhere near full. A torn lateral meniscus in his knee, suffered in the Chargers game left him with one good leg the rest of the 2017 campaign. During OTAs Benjamin looked leaner, faster, stronger and he looks like he can jump a lot higher. It really is night and day when looking at the difference a few months can make.
"I mean last year I couldn't even bend. I couldn't bend my right leg… it was bad," said Benjamin. "It was to the point where I was always kind of second guessing myself. I was asking McDermott if I should even play… but I would always try and give it my all."
He will get number one receiver targets
Because Benjamin is healthy, and because he is the only proven threat locked into a spot right now, Benjamin should be getting the targets he wasn't getting last season. That includes his time in Carolina.
In his first season in the league, Benjamin hauled in over 1,000-yards receiving and nine touchdowns. After missing all the 2015 season due to an injury, Benjamin was still able to pull in 941-yards receiving for seven touchdowns.
Last season, Benjamin didn't feel like he was featured correctly even though he was supposed to be the number one.
"I wasn't getting my number one targets," he said.
In Buffalo, he knows he will get that opportunity.
"It's a business," said Benjamin. "And they're always bringing young guys in, and the young guys keep you pushing. You just got to keep pushing, keep working and hope the team wants to feature you as their number one."
He's a matchup nightmare Watching a healthy Benjamin, you wouldn't think a man his size could run with the speed he does. At 6-5, 245 lbs. Benjamin is one of the bigger receivers in the league making him dangerous on high throws, along the sidelines or on a fade route into the corner of the end zone.
The quarterbacks in Buffalo are happy to have guy like Benjamin on the roster for the season as well.
"Yeah, I mean his catch radius is unbelievable," said Josh Allen. "I just throw it up there and let him go make a play, and that's our job as quarterbacks to allow our guys to make a play on the ball. He's a special player; I've never played with anybody like him. Just the things that he can do, the matchups that you can have with him. It's just pretty phenomenal, the things he can do on the football field."
All of it points to what will likely be a significant spike in production for Benjamin, who would certainly welcome it entering a contract year.