Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kelvin Benjamin Might Have the Highest Ceiling of Any Draft Eligible Receiver, but Will He Be a Top 50 Pick?

Everything you learned about Kelvin Benjamin in 2012, or even early in this season, forget it. This is a new year. Players progress, players evolve, players get better.

This year, to say Benjamin has "flipped the switch" is putting it lightly. He's no longer going through the motions in his routes, "gator arming" balls, and loafing altogether. As the season has gone on Benjamin has bee relied on much more, and is playing with a consistent edge, as opposed to last year/early this year. Head coach Jimbo Fisher said Benjamin was playing around 248 pounds last year. He's shed nearly 15 pounds this year, and you can see it, Benjamin is much more explosive this year.

A red-shirt sophomore, Benjamin will be 23 in February, so it's very likely he'll enter the draft. But how high can he go? Just how talented is he? Will he be a one year wonder?

Strengths


  • Winning the Catch Point
  • Beating Press Coverage
  • Ball Skills
  • YAC Ability
  • Athleticism 
When I say Benjamin wins the catch point, I mean he owns the catch point. Just a year ago when FSU would use Benjamin in jump ball situations, he wouldn't extend his arms. He also had a huge problem of pushing off and drawing a pass interference. This year, he's using 6'5 frame and has embarrassed many corners. His ability to not only high point the ball, but adjust to the ball while it's in the air, and controlling his body while he's doing it, are as good as it gets in college football.



At 6'5 and over 235 pounds, it's no surprise that Benjamin is so effective at countering press coverage. But this wasn't always the case. Benjamin was nowhere near as explosive off the line of scrimmage in years past. This year, he's been great at using his hands to negate defenders from re-routing him.






At times, he can just let his athleticism take over. As Loucheiz Purifoy found out, he can just run right by you.


His ball skills and route running are much improved from a year ago, too. Last year, he had issues coming back to the ball, and rounding routes. This year, he's not taking as many steps to get out of his breaks, and as you can see in the image below, he's excelled in creating separation at more than just vertical routes.


Benjamin will be successful early in his NFL career is his ability to adjust while the ball is in the air, as well as giving his quarterback an enormous catch radius.





Because he's no longer a "body catcher", even when Benjamin is covered, he's open.


It makes life as a quarterback 10 times easier when you know you have some leeway on your ball placement.

When Benjamin has the ball in his hands, he's a terror to bring down. I've shown you his explosiveness off the line, but he has the lateral movements of a 190 pound receiver. That coupled with him being bigger than linebackers makes him a YAC monster, and a headache for opposing defensive backs to tackle on the first try.





The only real stat I value when watching receivers is their catch percentage. I want to know is their production a product of high volume? I want to know how reliable you are as a pass catcher. Anything over 70% is good. By my numbers, Benjamin has 45 catches on 69 targets, which is 65%. For the amount of routes that come beyond 15 yards, that's pretty respectable, but it also leads into some of Benjamin's downfalls.

Weaknesses

  • Focus Drops
  • Disguising his routes
  • Reading Coverages
  • Consistency
  • 100% Every Snap
He's grown so much, that most of his weaknesses are nitpicking. He's had problems at times showing full effort when he knows the ball isn't coming his way. 

At times, Benjamin will still round his routes. Because he is so big and fast he can get away with it. He'll still be bigger at the next level, but NFL corners, once they have tape on him, will be able to have a good feel for what routes he runs if he doesn't get more crisp in his route running. 

Benjamin has also improved at sitting down in routes, but he'll still need to get better at reading coverages. He'll see more combo coverages at the next level, now he's basically seeing anywhere from 2-4 coverages a game.

My biggest problem with Benjamin is his "focus drops." These are drive killers. The spectacular plays are fun, but the drops are inexcusable. It's not as if he's dropping contested catches, because he's great at that. He's dropping balls his way where no one is around him.







This has happened all year, not just the Florida game. Benjamin needs to show more focus in order to be a complete wide receiver.

Grade



Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10  8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round  8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round  7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round  7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round  7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round  6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round  6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round  5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round  5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round  4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations  4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable    < 4.0





Trait WeightGrade
Route Running43.5
Speed2.52.2
Hands32.5
Ball Skills33
YAC Ability22
Effort21.7
Blocking21.8
Toughness22
Awareness2.52.2
Athleticism22


My grade for Benjamin came out to an 8.24. Even with the drops, he is such a unique athlete that dominates the catch point and has a catch radius that quarterbacks will drool over. Combined that with his ability after the catch, and you see why Benjamin is a 1st round talent.

Player Comparison

Benjamin is good, but he's not Calvin Johnson good. Megatron was a 4.3 guy, Benjamin will likely run 4.47-4.49 from what I've seen. I compare him to a more explosive Alshon Jeffery. Both are nightmares at the catch point and a pain to tackle. Both have a tendency to round their routes and not explode out of their breaks. 

The film for this breakdown is from draftbreakdown.com, tomahawknation.com, and YouTube.







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