Kelvin Shawon Benjamin (born February 5, 1991) is an American football wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Florida State and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Benjamin attended Glades Central High School in Belle Glade, Florida, where he played football, basketball and ran track. In football, he played as a wide receiver. He was named First Team All-Palm Beach County by Sun-Sentinel and was selected to the Palm Beach Post All-Area First Team. As a senior, he hauled in 30 catches for 551 yards with six touchdowns, although he just played in eight games. In track & field, Benjamin competed in the jumping events. He got a personal-best jump of 1.84 meters in the high jump at the 2009 FHSAA 2A District 13, where he tied for third place. At the 2010 Glades Central Invitational, he took gold in the long jump event, recording a career-best leap of 6.48 meters. He was deemed ineligible in his senior year in high school due to his age, graduating high school at 20 years of age.
Regarded as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Benjamin was ranked as the No. 7 wide receiver and the No. 60 overall player nationally in his class. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 12 receiver in the nation, while ESPN.com had him as the No. 23. According to 247Sports.com, he was the No. 13 wide receiver and the No. 89 player nationally. He chose Florida State University over scholarship offers from Auburn, Florida, Miami (FL), and Virginia Tech, among others.
|Name||Hometown||High school / college||Height||Weight||40‡||Commit date|
|Belle Glade, Florida||Glades Central High School||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)||210 lb (95 kg)||4.60||Jan 9, 2011|
|Recruiting star ratings: Scout: Rivals: 247Sports: ESPN grade: 80|
|Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 23 (WR) Rivals: 8 (WR), 60 (National), 16 (FL)|
After being redshirted in 2011, Benjamin played in all 14 games in 2012, recording 30 receptions for 495 yards and four touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2013, he had 54 receptions for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown against Auburn in the BCS title game with 13 seconds remaining. Sports Illustrated named Benjamin to their All-American first team and he was also selected to the All-ACC Second Team by the coaches and All-ACC Third Team by media. After the season, Benjamin decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
Despite forgoing two years of eligibility, Benjamin was still given a first round grade by the NFL Draft Advisory Board, which is typically conservative with underclassmen draft entrants, and was widely considered one of the top wide receivers in the 2014 NFL Draft. Benjamin's size, speed, physicality, and high-pointing ability drew parallels to players including Alshon Jeffrey and Plaxico Burress. While many scouts were concerned about his hands and a current lack of precise route running at this point, many projected him as a first-round pick due to his potential. Benjamin was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 28th pick of the first round. NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock praised the Panthers selection of Benjamin after it occurred. "He's 6-foot-5, 240 pounds with 35-inch arms, and you're talking about a catching radius." Mayock then went on to compare Benjamin to other college wide receivers that only had one year of college production. "However, there's one thing about wide receivers with only one year of college production (like Benjamin at FSU) and it's a little sobering when you look at the names on that list: Stephen Hill, Greg Little, Devin Thomas, Anthony Gonzalez," Mayock said.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40‑yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20‑ss||3‑cone||Vert jump||Broad||BP||Wonderlic|
|6 ft 5 in|
|34 7⁄8 in|
|10 1⁄4 in|
|4.61 s||1.65 s||2.63 s||4.39 s||7.33 s||33 in|
|9 ft 11 in|
|All values from NFL Combine or Florida State Pro Day|
2014: rookie season
After losing Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, and Domenik Hixon in the offseason, the Panthers chose Benjamin high in the draft. Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said to reporters Benjamin's tape reminded him of a young Plaxico Burress. During training camp and the preseason, Benjamin was in a competition for the Panthers No. 1 receiver spot with former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. On June 4, 2014, Benjamin signed a four-year $7.66 million deal. During his debut performance on September 7, 2014 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Benjamin recorded 6 receptions for 92 yards and one touchdown; quarterback Derek Anderson had a 152.1 quarterback rating when throwing towards Benjamin. With his touchdown reception, Benjamin joined Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, Demaryius Thomas, Percy Harvin, Brandin Cooks, and Mike Williams as the only rookie first round wide receivers to catch a touchdown reception during their debut performance. Additionally, Benjamin's 92 yards were the seventh-most for a wide receiver in the first game of his rookie season behind Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss, Eddie Royal, DeSean Jackson, Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, and Allen Hurns. Kelvin Benjamin was voted the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for his week 1 performance. In a week 2 win over the Detroit Lions, Benjamin recorded 2 catches for 46 yards. In week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Benjamin recorded his first 100-yard game, catching 8 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown. Through the first three weeks of the season, Benjamin was targeted seven times in the deep passing game (20+ yards), tied for sixth in the league. Additionally, during this span, ProFootball Focus ranked Benjamin 22nd in the NFL in receiving efficiency. During week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens, Benjamin recorded 5 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. With the touchdown reception, Benjamin became the only rookie wide receiver in the past 10 years to record a 25+ yard receiving touchdown in three of the team’s first four games, joining Randy Moss, who accomplished the feat in 1998. Further, Benjamin and Marques Colston were the only rookies in 30 years to gain 300 receiving yards and catch three touchdown passes in his team’s first four games. On October 2, 2014, it was announced that the NFL named Kelvin Benjamin the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for September. In the Panthers week 8 matchup against the defending champion Seattle Seahawks, Benjamin racked up 94 yards against the All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, the highest yardage total Sherman allowed since Week 4 of 2012. Benjamin finished the season with 73 receptions, 1,008 yards receiving, and 9 touchdowns. He and teammate Greg Olsen became the first receiving duo to amass 1,000 receiving yards in the same year for the Panthers since Muhsin Muhammad and Patrick Jeffers in 1999. Benjamin became only the 11th rookie wide receiver in NFL history to record a 1,000 yard season. During the Panthers playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Benjamin recorded 7 catches for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Benjamin came into training in the best shape of his football career, according to Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. In August, Benjamin tore his ACL in a joint practice with the Miami Dolphins, ending his 2015 season. The Panthers placed him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Without Benjamin, the Panthers won 15 games, which set a franchise record.
After missing all of the 2015 season with a torn ACL, Benjamin returned in the season opener game against the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. Benjamin had 6 receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown in his return at Denver, and followed that with seven receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers. He had no receptions in week three, and though he caught a pass in every remaining game that season, his yardage totals were erratic and never again broke 100. Nevertheless, he ended the season leading the team with seven touchdown receptions, and second to tight end Greg Olsen with 63 receptions for 941 yards.
Panthers franchise records
As of 2017's NFL off-season, Kelvin Benjamin held at least 10 Panthers franchise records, including:
- Receptions: rookie season (73 in 2014), rookie game (9 on 2014-11-16 ATL)
- Receiving Yds: rookie season (1,008 in 2014)
- Receiving TDs: playoff game (2 on 2015-01-10 @SEA; with Steve Smith Sr.), rookie season (9 in 2014), rookie game (2 on 2015-01-10 @SEA; with David Gettis)
- Rec Yds/Game: rookie season (63.0 in 2014)
- Total TDs: playoff game (2 on 2015-01-10 @SEA; with Steve Smith Sr. x2, Jonathan Stewart, and Cam Newton)
- Yds from Scrimmage: rookie season (1,008 in 2014)
- 100+ yard receiving games: rookie season (3)
- Diet Pepsi rookie of the week (week 1, 2014)
- Rookie of the month (September 2014)