Kelvin Benjamin’s last catch of his college career was the touchdown that sealed the National Championship for the Florida State Seminoles. On a team full of incredible athletes, the giant wide receiver stood out in Tallahassee. He was a dynamic threat that showed he could be a play maker before or after the catch, but he was also incredibly inconsistent. At times, he was absolutely dominant but others showed he was his own worst enemy.
Going to the NFL, Benjamin’s physical potential is impressive but he is not really polished in any aspect of his game and he really would have benefited from another year to hone his craft and at least punch out a few holes in his game. Unfortunately, Benjamin was a 23 year old redshirt sophomore, so it is understandable why he made the leap.
From his route running to catching the football to even how he runs with the football, he shows a great deal of promise but has not shown to be a finished product in a single aspect of his game. In spite of his flaws, Benjamin still showed he could take over a game and just how dangerous he can be. Benjamin’s physical tools are first round caliber but his polish as a receiver is that of a third day player. It is difficult to imagine he would slip any lower than the second round because of what he can do now, but more so in what he might be able to do down the road.
Vitals & Build
Benjamin is listed at 6’5” 234lbs and is extremely physically impressive. He has a big, strong build with incredible burst and long speed. As fast as he is, he has shown remarkable ability to make slight adjustments and maintain his speed, making it difficult for opponents to stay with him. It will be interesting to see where Benjamin officially measures, but his potential is through the roof.
Route Running & Technique
Benjamin’s stance is pretty solid without a ton of bounce in his release. He really gets a quick lean forward and has a terrific first step, getting a nice burst immediately. Between that and his size, he can put the fear into opponents immediately and take advantage of them right off of the bat.
When it comes to executing routes, Benjamin has a couple he does really well. Posts, flags, slants and square-ins are his game. The Seminoles will often use an arrow type route to work as a pick to free Benjamin up over the middle. When it comes to that type of route, Benjamin can really do a nice job of planting his foot in the ground and redirecting his momentum extremely well and without losing much if any speed. The consistency is not always there, but when he is on, he can blow opponents away. This is more evident when he runs posts and that burst out of his cut leaves opponents in his wake.
The areas where Benjamin tends to struggle involve dramatic changes of direction. Comebacks and hitches, he often rounds off and is clunky with his footwork and how many steps he needs to make the move. He needs to improve how economical he is with his feet, trust his leg strength and make it easier for his quarterback to get him the ball. While his size works as a shield, it was noticeable that he rarely had passes thrown to him on these types of routes.
Benjamin has demonstrated that he has a potentially huge catch radius, but he has really been inconsistent with his hands. He has had drops because he is rushing too much, concentration drops and just plain old drops, where the ball is in his grasp and simply falls out of it as well as wide open drops and contested ones.
Benjamin has shown he can occasionally make a remarkable play as well but this is something the drops seem to show up in every single game.
Some of this is a matter of simply getting more reps, experience and working through it, but in addition to that, he needs to do a better job with hand position, how he attacks the football, and how to use his body as a pass catcher. One of the issues Benjamin gets tripped up on is reaching out for the football and not being able to retract his arms quickly enough where opponents can get in and knock out the ball. He also needs to do a better job of timing his jumps to high point the football. This is another area where he is hit or miss and can be problematic for him.
Benjamin has shown a great deal of potential as a pass catcher, but there is a ton of work ahead of him to get there.
Run After Catch
Benjamin is incredibly dangerous with the ball in his hands and the Seminoles worked to get him in position to make plays after the catch quite a bit. His acceleration and speed make it so if he has an opening, he is a threat to score. Not only is he fast, but he is powerful with a strong stiff arm and is a load to take down because of his size.
Benjamin can do a nice job of making the transition from receiver to run after the catch, but part of why he is effective in that is why some of his drops happen. He does a good job of trying to maneuver himself for what happens after the catch, but in so doing, he ends up losing concentration on the ball and the result is a drop. When he does it correctly, he looks impressive and it makes him look that much faster.
With more time, experience and reps, he can hopefully work to increase the effectiveness in this area and eliminate the drops that could make him incredibly dangerous. The other issue is that he will carry the ball wildly and it can result in fumbles. He just needs to consistently put it away, maintain three point of contact and eliminate the issue.
Benjamin can do a nice job as a blocker. He is not afraid to go up and impose his will, attacking the opponent, getting control of them and then moving them out of the way. Benjamin has shown he can be a dominant force in that regard, driving his feet after contact.
The one thing that gets Benjamin in trouble on occasion is that he has such a broad build that when he goes to block, he can end up on the outside of the opponents’ shoulder pads and inadvertently hold them. It is not a big deal and his attitude towards blocking is good, but just something that has popped up at times.
Benjamin is extremely versatile in what he can offer a team. He certainly can be an impressive weapon in a vertical style offense because of his size and speed, but Benjamin has also shown he might be better in a horizontal offense, at least right now. He is a big threat when he gets the ball in his hands with space.
Benjamin can play on the outside but he has really been an effective weapon playing from the slot, looking the part of a joker tight end. He is a player that can be moved around quite a bit. Because of his tools and potential, it is hard to imagine that Benjamin will not at least be put in a situation where a team can get him touches and let him try to make plays whether it be on a quick passes or deep ones, but it would not be a shock if he ends up starting out the year and getting a trial by fire.
Benjamin’s game might be similar to that of Matt Jones, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jones was drafted in the first round because of his physical tools that are similar to Benjamin despite he was a quarterback in college and did his damage with the ball being snapped to him as opposed to thrown.
Jones and Benjamin are both huge and somewhat raw, though Benjamin is already better than Jones in terms of using his body in the red zone than Jones was. Jones ultimately flamed out due to off field issues, which will hopefully not be an issue for Benjamin.
Kelvin Benjamin is a tremendous prospect who looks the part of an elite wide receiver. His size and speed are impressive, but he is still learning quite a bit about the position. The drops are the biggest issue, but his route running and how he carries the ball are issues as well. His potential is sky high and he has some things he can immediately do for a team. As a result, while he is still somewhat raw and there are issues to be cleaned up, Benjamin is likely to be picked in the top 75 of the NFL Draft with a good chance of going in the top 50.
Some of the film used for this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com