Early word out of Panthers training camp is that the team drafted a gem in former Florida State receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
The 6-5, 240 pound hulk of a wide receiver has reportedly made nothing but big plays in practice for the Panthers. That strong play transferred over the Panthers’ preseason debut, where Benjamin made a spectacular diving catch for a 29-yard touchdown.
Going into Panthers camp, everyone wanted to know who would step up and replace Steve Smith as Cam Newton’s top target this season. Three weeks later, everyone has their answer: Benjamin.
"I'm not unhappy," Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman told ESPN’s David Newton. "Kelvin, he came prepared. He came in very good physical shape. You could see his energy is there every day. He's done everything we've asked him to do and he's getting better all the time."
Benjamin still has work to do, of course. Coach Ron Rivera noted that playing wide receiver in the NFL isn’t all about making acrobatic catches. It’s about recognizing defenses and reading coverages, too. Like all rookies, Benjamin has a lot of work to do there. But given how prepared he came to camp and how hard he’s worked since, it looks like Benjamin could be one of those rare blends that has the work ethic to match his elite physical talent.
Rivera held nothing back when asked about his hopes for Cam Newton and Benjamin.
"There's a lot of things that play into it," Rivera told ESPN. "But hopefully, barring something crazy, those two guys play together 10 years here in Charlotte and for the Panthers and make a big mark."
To see what made Benjamin such a coveted proscpect coming out of Florida State, check out his highlight reel from the 2013 season: