The Carolina Panthers traded their top wide receiver to the Buffalo Bills before the trade deadline two weeks ago. Buffalo gave up only two late round picks, but even for Kelvin Benjamin, was it worth the price?
The Buffalo Bills gave third-round and seventh-round draft picks to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Throughout his career, Benjamin has been a No. 1 receiver, but was he worth trading for?
Nope. Kelvin Benjamin was a highly coveted talent out of Florida State before his selection in the 2014 NFL Draft but his pro career has been underwhelming. So what went wrong?
His size and physicality with man-to-man defenders caught the eye of many scouts in his path to the NFL, but his tenure in Carolina didn’t pan out as everyone expected it to. An ACL injury after early domination as a rookie set Benjamin back a few steps. All signs point to a fresh start in Buffalo. This, however, shouldn’t be the clean slate the 26-year-old wideout is hoping for.
With the Panthers, Benjamin dominated in his first year. Breaking rookie records in receiving yards and receptions, it looked as if he was destined to join the ranks of Antonio Brown and Julio Jones as one of the top receivers in the NFL.
His ACL tear in 2015 is what ultimately caused his downfall. The injury caused his production in the Carolina offense to decrease over the next two seasons. Ron Rivera also wanted Kelvin to be a vertical weapon, which hurt his stat line and his effectiveness on the field.
Benjamin now joins a Buffalo team that runs a similar offense with Tyrod Taylor under center. The run-heavy Bills use a zone read offense to forge their success, using LeSean McCoy in the backfield to their advantage.
With the Bills, much like with the Panthers, Benjamin’s implementation into the team’s offense will determine his success. Aside from recent losses to New Orleans and the New York Jets, it doesn’t seem likely that the Bills would want to change their offense with the rare success they’ve been experiencing.
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This past week against the Saints, Benjamin made his Bills debut. He finished the game with a mere three receptions. This showed no improvement from when he left the Panthers a few weeks ago. Because he’s still getting comfortable with a new offense, it’s no surprise that Kelvin struggled on Sunday.
However, going forward his production shouldn’t show too much of an increase. Buffalo receivers haven’t made much of an impact other than serving as deep threats this season. Kelvin isn’t the type of wideout for this role as his size makes him more of a physical talent.
The Bills are on track to put their new acquisition into the same situation he was in with the Panthers. He isn’t playing to his full potential when serving as a deep threat.
In most cases, Benjamin will probably fail to catch the deep ball due to his inability to get open down the field. This will cause Taylor to either run the ball or throw to someone else. This is not the ideal situation for a receiver like Kelvin.