The Carolina Panthers snagged the fifth ACC player of the 2014 NFL Draft by selecting Kelvin Benjamin with the 28th overall pick. Benjamin declared for the draft after just two seasons on the field with Florida State.
Benjamin caught 54 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. His most important catch was the game-winner in the national championship game, where he used his extraordinary size to rise above the Auburn secondary and safely snare the ball before landing in the end zone.
There’s no question that Benjamin will start for the Panthers next year. Carolina’s receiving corps includes the likes of Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Tavarres King and Tiquan Underwood. Wide receiver was the Panthers’ biggest need, and Benjamin should become the top target for emerging star Cam Newton.
Southern Cal receiver Marqise Lee was surprisingly still available, and he was considered a better prospect by most draft analysts, but Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman must have rated Benjamin higher. Some figures in the NFL believe Benjamin could’ve been a top-three pick in the 2015 draft if he returned to school.
Benjamin is the first Florida State player to get picked, but he does continue the 12-year streak of the national champion having at least one first-rounder. He’s the Seminoles’ fourth first-round selection in the past two years.