Earlier tonight Scott wrote an argument against the Jets taking Kelvin Benjamin. While I think he made a number of valid points, I can't say I agree with the conclusion that the Jets need to stay far, far away from the Florida State wide receiver. Why is this?
One of the key points Scott and others have made to discourage talk of the Jets taking Benjamin is the concern he will not be a quality contributor from day one. That's true of anybody the Jets take, though. Wide receiver is a slow transition position to the NFL. There are 32 teams in the NFL. They have a pair of starting receivers. That makes 64. Let's say for the sake of argument the top 32 are the above average starters. Know how many wide receivers have been in the top 32 in receiving yards as rookies in the past five seasons? There have been eight. Now I'm probably oversimplifying. In today's high octane passing era, many teams have more than a pair of wideouts out of base sets. There are a smattering of 700 and 800 yard rookie seasons not in that top 32, but you could count them on one hand. The bottom line is unless you are getting a top two receiver, you probably aren't getting an impact guy as a rookie or even a tangible contributor. I don't think many people have Benjamin pegged as a top two prospect. If the Jets were going to upgrade at wide receiver, it probably had to happen in free agency whether or not they take Benjamin.
There are parts of Benjamin's game that make me uneasy. His drop rate is definitely too high. Is this a concern? Yes. Is this an absolute dealbreaker? Not necessarily. Brandon Marshall and Wes Welker both had drop rates over 7% last year. You can live with drops if the player does other truly special things that make up for them, the kind of things you don't get from the typical player. I could tell you Benjamin's size allows him to have balls thrown to him and catch them that other receivers could not dream of having. He is a human throwing lane. He can reach for balls incredibly far away from his body like Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green do. How do we put what I'm telling you I see into context? Benjamin's 34.875 arm length is bigger than either of them.
How about athletic ability? Benjamin moves really well for a man of his size. I could tell you he's a good athlete, but let's take a look at some Combine stats that put things into perspective.
Player A: 6'4" 250 pounds; 4.60 40 yard dash; 32.0 vertical; 120.0 broad jump
Player B: 6'5" 240 pounds; 4.61 40 yard dash; 32.5 vertical; 119.0 broad jump
Player A is Eric Ebron, considered by many to be a freakish athlete. Benjamin is Player B. I know Combine measurable don't always mean everything. The Jets have had some notable workout warriors bust, but Benjamin's skills translated on the field. They translated into difficult catches, huge gains, touchdowns, and big numbers. These measurables aren't Stephen Hill style minimal production with raw athleticism. They are a manifestation of what we saw when he played. Yes, he had a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, but you know as well as I do how the statement can be just as easily flipped. How much of Jameis Winston's success was because he had great receiver play? Wasn't Geno Smith a victim of his receivers to some degree?
And yes, there is a story out today about Benjamin missing a meeting with a team. We also know how these prospects are under a microscope to a ridiculous degree and how things in this process are sometimes blown out of proportion if not outright made up. We had better have a lot more to go on than some thin report if we are to start eliminating prospects.
Am I 100% sure Benjamin is destined for NFL stardom? No, but you can't be sure of anybody. Every single player has major question marks. Very few wide receivers are ready to make a big impact on day one. What I can tell you is there also aren't many prospects who have the combination of Benjamin's scary physical tools to go along with the kind of production he put up at Florida State in 2013. Many people whose option for whom I have the utmost respect disagree, including Scott, but I have no problem if the Jets go in this direction at the Draft.