In the build up to the 2014 NFL Draft, I figured I would make a lot of player comparisons for prospects as I determined their fit with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I never could have imagined that any of those comparisons would be juxtaposing a player with myself as a middle school basketball player.
But that's the case with Florida State receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who has a lot of positive traits at first glance, but a closer inspection reveals flaws and issues that cause real concern when considering the premium draft choice Benjamin is likely to command.
A Sizable Athlete, Not a Polished Receiver
When I was in middle school, I shot up in height to over six feet tall, leaving me literally head and shoulders above my classmates. This prompted a kid who loved baseball more than any other sport to move to basketball, where my height would be put to good use.
But unfortunately, sports aren't simply won and lost on size alone, and my awkward, uncoordinated attempts at playing basketball cancelled out all the advantages of being freakishly tall.
Watching Benjamin, I get the same feeling. Benjamin is absolutely huge, and even has some athleticism to match. But his on-the-field product fails to live up to his impressive stature.
Benjamin doesn't seem to get open easily, apart from being "always open" due to his size, leaping ability, and incredible wingspan. Benjamin's measured height and weight are similar to that of Vincent Jackson or Mike Evans, but his wingspan, hands, and athleticism seem to make him even bigger than either of those two players.
It just simply doesn't show up on tape often enough. Benjamin will be a red zone threat from day one, but so was Joseph Fauria, who was limited in his role with the Detroit Lions anywhere outside of the red zone.
There's value in scoring touchdowns, but the NFL features a 100 yard field, and Benjamin must learn how to be more effective for the 99 that precede the goal line.
Where He Can Improve
Benjamin does not have reliable hands, something that certainly cannot be blamed on hand size. Instead, the issue for Benjamin is catching technique and concentration. He has a tendency to double catch the ball or drop it outright, and he doesn't seem to quickly secure the ball and is prone to bobbling or losing it on a post-catch hit.
The FSU product is also not very explosive or quick, and seems to rely mostly on his size to get open against most defensive backs. His speed and quickness more resemble that of a hybrid tight end than a wide receiver.
The bigger picture, however, is that Benjamin must improve at "being a wide receiver." He has the frame to become an incredibly scary passing game option, but has almost none of the skills at the moment.
And it's not like he's that young of a prospect to be so raw in his abilities. Benjamin recently turned 23, and despite only being a redshirt sophomore, he's one of the older draftable players at his position. So whatever changes he needs to make must be made as he enters his athletic prime, which isn't an ideal situation.
Kelvin Benjamin looks like he should be an uncoverable monster at the receiver position, but the tape just doesn't show that level of dominance.
Instead, it reveals a player that seems a step slow, and it reveals a player with inconsistent hands that betray his "possession receiver" frame.
As for his fit with the Buccaneers? There isn't one. The Buccaneers have a big, slow possession receiver and two catch-first tight ends. This means that Benjamin would be redundant at wideout and largely unneeded if he were to transition to tight end.
There are plenty of teams that lack in size out wide that should take a close look at Benjamin's potential, but Tampa isn't one of those teams.
It will be interesting to see if Benjamin dips into his potential at all in the pros, because a capable athlete of his size doesn't come around very often.