One of the quickest picks of the first round last night came when the Panthers ran to the podium to take Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin 28th overall.
With their need at the position, it was similar to last year’s sprint to select defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.
And like that pick, Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman said the opportunity was simply too big to ignore.
“You can’t teach 6-5, 240 with a 34-inch arm length and 10-inch hands,” Gettleman said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “This guy has unusual ball skills. He’s got what we call a very big strike zone.”
Benjamin has plenty of big-game experience, with the last-minute, game-winning touchdown in the BCS title game, a play on which was obviously drawn up for him.
“I said, ‘you knew and everybody else in that stadium knew the ball was going to you and you were going to catch it,’” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “He said, ‘I wasn’t going to let the quarterback down.’ I loved that confidence. And I love the fact that he had his quarterback’s back.”
Now Cam Newton has a big weapon, and the Panthers have something to work with. Benjamin’s still a raw prospect, but Panthers receivers coach Ricky Prohel is there in part to mold young wideouts, and they brought in veterans Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery to be stable ponies as much as starters.
The work with Benjamin will begin now, and now the Panthers can continue to work on the rest of their holes (such as the offensive line and secondary) as the draft continues.