Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Benjamin states first-round case at pro day
By Jared Shanker
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Kelvin Benjamin has sat on the fringe of the first round of NFL mock drafts since he declared early. The powerfully built receiver passed the eye test at the combine, but an ordinary 40-yard dash time left some front offices questioning Benjamin’s first-round credentials. Those still apprehensive about his speed were hoping Benjamin would alleviate concerns at Florida State’s pro day Tuesday.
That didn’t happen. Benjamin decided not to run. He asked NFL teams to look at his body of work -- and body, all 6-foot-5, 240 pounds of it -- as proof he is a surefire first-round talent.
Following a dominant pro-day performance in position drills, undoubtedly far more teams are willing to overlook his 4.61 time in Indianapolis.
FSU's Kelvin Benjamin might not be the fastest WR, but as Jimbo Fisher said, "You don't want to play against that guy."
“I really wish he ran, but he has such a unique skill set with his ball skills and catch radius,” one NFC scout said.
While running routes, Benjamin showcased his ability to catch the football at its highest point and make the types of catches most NFL receivers can't. On one throw toward the boundary, NFL coaches cleared as the ball’s flight plan descended toward a coaching cluster. Benjamin hauled in the pass -- easily -- and on the next throw he reached behind to catch an underthrown and off-target toss.
And for those who still question his speed?
“I can open up that stride and stride all day,” he said. “You got a guy who can run 4.3, he’s going to get tired and not keep up with the stride all day.”
Noles coach Jimbo Fisher will be terse with NFL coaches asking if Benjamin is worth a first-round payday.
"You don't want to play against him. That's the ultimate thing,” he said. “I'm telling you this: You don't want to play against that guy. He changes the game.”
Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan will likely be the first former Florida State player taken, and both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay project him to the Cowboys at No. 16. Jernigan weighed in at 305 pounds Tuesday, six pounds heavier than at the combine. Most of the questions he was hearing about his stock surrounded his height (6-1) and sub-300-pound playing weight.
“I feel like they definitely wanted to see how well I could move, weighing a little bit heavier than I did at the combine and how well I could move agility-wise and how powerful I was,” Jernigan said. “I feel like I did a pretty good job showing that.”
NFL coaches intently watched the secondary drills, as Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks are both potential second-round picks. Brooks built upon his strong performance at the combine, excelling in position drills.
2014 NFL DRAFT
Round 1: May 8, 8 p.m. ET Rds. 2-3: May 9, 7 p.m. ET Rds. 4-7: May 10, noon ET
Radio City Music Hall
New York City
Joyner is rated higher than Brooks, but there is some trepidation among NFL scouts. Joyner struggled securing catches and one scout noted the need to be able to finish making the play on the ball. He said Joyner showed that in his film, but an NFC North scout chimed in that he is more worried about Joyner’s height. He measured in at just above 5-8.
“It’s a big concern,” the NFC North scout said. “You don’t see too many 5-8 corners.”
The biggest surprise among the defensive backs, and possibly the entire pro day was the attendance of Greg Reid. A three-year starter at cornerback for Florida State, Reid was dismissed from the team before his senior season. He enrolled at Division II Valdosta State but a torn ACL cost him his senior season. Instead of returning in 2013, he declared for the NFL draft but was not selected.
A few scouts buzzed that Reid, who can be signed by a team at any time, was the best defensive back participating.
“I was pleased to come out and show NFL coaches how I was doing and how far I’ve came,” Reid said. “I’m healthy and everything is going in the right track.”