Today the Panthers cut their starting cornerback, Bene Benwikere. What I’ve been doing over the last couple months is watching nothing but NFC CBs and ranking them. So it was a surprise to me when Carolina chose to get rid of a corner the caliber of Benwikere. Something tells me it was more than just being torched by Julio Jones this past Sunday. When I say torched, I mean doused in gasoline and why didn’t he stop, drop, and roll torched. Carolina hung Bene Benwikere out to dry by matching him up 1-on-1 with Jones and it went as expected. Benwikere gave up 9 catches on 11 targets. Against Jones himself, he surrendered 228 yards. He was beaten 6 times, 3 of them went for over 20 yards. He also gave up four 1st downs and two touchdowns. Bene also had a missed tackle for good measure. To his credit, Benwikere did defend two passes.
It’s not fair to ask any corner to shadow a receiver with the talent of Jones. In the season opener against the Broncos, though he did have an interception, he was beaten five times. From watching him against different levels of receivers, Benwikere is best suited as a #2 at his peak. He is at best when he is in the slot and can win with what I would call above average ball skills. The best version of Benwikere, in my opinion, would be Brandon Flowers’ first year as a Charger. Against the 49ers and the Vikings, teams with average at best receivers, Benwikere wasn’t beat at all.
Going back to his match-up against Jones, there was a play where he did run downfield and jumped up to knock the pass away. 3 of the catches he allowed he was “in position” to make a play. This one below, you can’t defend much better than Benwikere.
That’s just better offense. How about this?
What are you supposed to do about that right there? Julio pushes off, reaches behind him and makes a grab that only the Julio Jones of the world can make.
This is going to surprise you, but life gets a little easier when you’re not guarding one of the five best wide outs in the game.
If it’s something other than his play, we have no way of knowing. If the Chargers were to claim Benwikere tomorrow, he’d be the second-best corner if he was active Sunday against the Raiders. Is he going to replace Jason Verrett? Of course not. Nobody is. But he is 25 and has two years left on his rookie contract and he could prove to be proven depth for the team moving forward. This is a good chance to take advantage of having an early waiver claim and improve the depth on an injury depleted team. A high reward, low-risk signing that makes so much sense I doubt the team would do it.