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Kelvin Benjamin Is Much More than A Vertical Threat

Philip Rivers loves big receivers? How about 6'5 Kelvin Benjamin

At 6'5, 240 pounds, to say the lightbulb came on for Kelvin Benjamin would be putting it lightly. He's no longer going through the motions in his routes, "gator arming" balls, or loafing altogether. The growth in his game compared to a year ago has been phenomenal, and I see no reason why it won't continue to trend upwards.

Many who see Benjamin, view him as a 1 trick pony, someone who can get vertical and make the highlight catch, but nothing else. The dirty little secret about Jimbo Fishers offense is that there are predominant west coast principles. Benjamin ran just as many curls, slants, and intermediate routes as he did deep routes down the field. Benjamin could certainly fit in a west coast offense in the NFL.

Where He Excels

  • Winning the Catch Point
  • Beating Press Coverage
  • Yac Ability
  • Match-up Nightmare in the Red Zone
Winning the catch point probably isn't giving Benjamin his credit. He owns the catch point. This was something that was on display whenever Benjamin was asked to win a 50/50 ball.


His size is really tough for any defensive back to deal with. Benjamin also does a good job of adjusting to the ball while it's in the air.


Benjamin's ability to control his body and adjust to the ball while it's in the air, makes him nearly impossible to guard.

A year ago the Chargers offense was incredible, finishing 5th in yards per play, 4th in 1st downs per game, 2nd in 3rd down conversions, and 3rd in offensive DVOA. The problem is, once they got into the red zone, San Diego was a mess. The Chargers were 23rd in the league when it came to converting touchdowns in the red zone. That's just unacceptable. This is where Benjamin excels.

Not just by throwing the fade to him, either. There's a route where Benjamin would work the intermediate to back of the end zone, on what is more of a 5 step slant, and it was deadly.


When it's an intermediate crossing route like this, if you throw it to the goal posts, Benjamin is the only one that has a chance to grab it.

San Diego's receivers had some trouble with press coverage, too. Given his size, Benjamin is already at an advantage. He's just quick enough beat you at the line of scrimmage, and from there, he has the speed to run right by the defender.


He does a good job of using his hands to keep himself clean at the line of scrimmage. Benjamin has good build up speed, and a different gear once the ball is in the air. Florida found this out the hard way.


Benjamin's most underrated trait might be his ability after the catch. As I said, Florida State used him on a lot of routes where he'd have to sit in a zone on a curl, or run a slant, or underneath route. He does a good job of eluding the 1st tackler.


The play above isn't anything sexy, but it goes from a 4 yard gain, to a 13 yard gain because Benjamin was able to make someone miss.

He's just as effective on the outside. Asking a 190 pound corner to tackle a guy 240 1-on-1 is a tough task.


Benjamin is a spectacular play waiting to happen, as the below GIF would indicate.


Where He'll Need to Improve

  • Focus Drops
  • Coming Back to the Ball
  • Consistency
  • 100% Every Snap
  • Reading Coverages
Benjamin has had times showing full effort. There will be plays where he drives the defender out of bounds, or flat out pancakes them when it comes to blocking. Then there will be occasions where it looks like the defender is getting the best of him, which is unacceptable for his size.

Benjamin has really improved at sitting down in zone coverages, but he'll need to get better at reading coverages. There are times when he will just run to where his route is supposed to go, instead of adjusting for the coverage. This leads to him not getting open.

For as many routes as Benjamin had where he would end up facing the quarterback, he needs to do a much better job at coming back to the ball. You'll see him create separation, but because he waits on the ball, it now becomes a contested catch.

By far and away the biggest issue is Benjamin's drop rate. He dropped 9% of his passes in 2013. For a guy that has over 10 inch hands, and is a hands catcher, this is a focus issue. This is likely where the "effort" comes into play. Benjamin needs to put it altogether.


Many of his drops, Benjamin was looking to make something happen, before he caught the ball.


Benjamin needs to show more focus all-around in his game to be considered a complete wide receiver.

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4

Trait Weight Grade
Route Running 4 3.5
Speed 2.5 2.2
Hands 3 2.5
Ball Skills 3 3
YAC Ability 2 2
Effort 2 1.6
Blocking 2 1.6
Separation Skills 2 1.5
Awareness 2.5 2.2
Athleticism 2 2

Benjamin grades out to a 7.96. Even with the drops, he's such a unique talent that dominates the catch point, and has a catch radius that quarterbacks drool over. Combine that with his ability after the catch, and you can see why he would be considered a 1st round talent. He's just outside of the 1st for me. He has the tools to be a #1 receiver, it's just about him putting it all together.

How He Fits as a Charger

Benjamin would be a good fit, because Florida State has similar offensive principles as San Diego. A lot of short, to intermediate routes. Benjamin excelled in both. He would be able to work the middle of the field, as well as stretch the field vertically outside the numbers. Which is something San Diego didn't have in 2013. He would be an ideal fit, because he wouldn't have to be "the guy" right away. He could develop, while still offering production opposite Keenan Allen. He wouldn't be my 1st choice, by now it should be pretty clear who that is. Make no mistake Benjamin would be a good pick/fit for San Diego. It's just a matter of do they roll the dice on him in the 1st round.