The Eagles have two major free agent wide receiver set to hit the market in Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin. While there is a good chance that at least one will return to Philadelphia, it is not a sure thing either will be back. With that in mind, the Eagles may have completely rebuild their wide receiver unit with younger players. Along with Cooper and Maclin possibly leaving, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson and Jeff Maehl all proved to be easily upgradable last season. With those five players either possibly gone or upgradable, only Pro Bowl pass catcher DeSean Jackson remains a lock for next season.
A major sticking point for the Eagles and their fans has been adding a receiver with size and speed that will allow Jackson to flourish even more in Chip Kelly's offense. Maclin is fast and Cooper is tall, but ideally the Eagles would like to have one of those guys and another that is a combination of the two. They will likely have plenty of options in this deep wide receiver class that includes 6-foot-5 speedster Kelvin Benjamin of the BSC Champion, Florida State Seminoles.
Benjamin was just three-year player at high school powerhouse Glades Central in Belle Glade, Florida when he was considered a four-star recruit. Benjamin decided to commit to Florida State despite several scholarship offers. He redshirted as a freshman in 2011, but played a key role on the field in 2012. As a redshirt freshman, Benjamin caught 30 passes from current Bills starting quarterback E.J. Manuel that went for 495 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
In 2013, Benjamin was Jameis Winston's top target on their BSC Championship team. He was named a first team All-American by SI.com and an All-ACC Third Team selection for his conference-leading 15 touchdown performance. Along with the 15 receiving scores, Benjamin caught 54 passes for 1011 receiving yards with a 18.7 yards per reception average. In the BSC Championship game against Auburn, Benjamin had receptions for 54 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
Obviously, Benjamin's biggest asset is his height. At 6-foot-5 and 234-pounds, Benjamin plays to size and is an excellent redzone target. He has the ability to beat double teams and break tackles relatively easy. He also displays very good leaping ability when dealing with larger defenders.
Benjamin is a serious athlete with excellent speed for his size. He has a 4.52 forty time (according to NFL.com) and gets open with ease. He has surefire YAC ability and is very hard to defend with the ball in the air. A decent and willing blocker, he sometimes can land a nasty shot or two on defenders.
A relatively new player to game, he has very little mileage on his tires.
Benjamin is still a bit raw with a combined five years of college and high school ball under his belt. His inexperience shows in his route running. He has solid hands, but he also tends to sometimes lose concentration or run before the catch, which leads to drops. There were also times with Manuel and Winston that Benjamin had communication issues on routes. However, a lot of this stuff is very coachable.
Kelly loves big players and a play-makers. Those are two of his favorite things and conveniently describe Benjamin. Even if the Eagles signed Maclin and Cooper to new contracts, they could still afford to upgrade the position. If anything, re-signing both guys would make Benjamin even more appealing, as they could ease him into action, similar to Alshon Jeffery in Chicago over the last two seasons.
Benjamin's combination of speed, size, age and willingness to block may make him more appealing than any free agent or player on the Eagles current roster. The only kicker is that he is a pretty obvious first round pick and could force the Eagles to sidestep both pass rushers and safeties on Day 1. For an offensive genius like Kelly, Benjamin may be worth picking him over any defender.
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