How big of a loss is Kelvin Benjamin?

The Panthers might have to enter the season without their best pass-catcher.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

How big of a loss is Kelvin Benjamin?

The Carolina Panthers are dealing with the loss of star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, after news came out Wednesday afternoon that his knee injury was in fact a torn ACL. How big of a loss is it for Carolina?

The second-year wide receiver is the epitome of a high-risk/high-reward player, as he’ll make spectacular catches and then follow them up with drops on easy passes, but his on-field impact is potentially a huge loss for the Carolina offense.

When Benjamin was drafted, the jokes among PFF analysts centered on the idea that Carolina found the biggest receiver it could find in order to help with quarterback Cam Newton’s penchant for overthrowing receivers. The pick worked out for the most part in 2014, as Benjamin made a number of difficult catches, turning overthrows into completions and picking up 11 touchdowns to go with his 1,116 yards (including the playoffs).

Benjamin also dropped 12 passes and had some questionable route-running, often put the ball in harm’s way when he didn’t finish a route or ran the wrong one entirely.

So there is certainly risk/reward to his game, but the positives outweigh the bad for Benjamin because he’s such a mismatch for opposing defenses.

Where do the Panthers go from here? They drafted WR Devin Funchess out of Michigan, and he’s largely a similar player to Benjamin. But two big receivers are certainly better than one, and a Benjamin injury really hurts the Panthers’ depth and ability to create mismatches. They’ll need another receiver to step up among the likes of Corey Brown, Jerricho Cotchery and Ted Ginn — none of which inspired confidence with their respective performances last year.

A year after Newton received as little help from his receivers as any quarterback in the league, it may be a repeat performance for the Carolina passing game with its best receiver out of the lineup.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • grenadiadrian

    It’s official now. What a huge blow to that offense.

  • The Observer

    I’m a Browns fan but I have a special place in my love for BIG wide receivers. I’m hoping Pryor can make the Browns roster and the more the big WR play well, the more I hope the Browns have patience with Pryor (similar size to Kelvin) and see the need for a big WR to complement the three small WR of T. Benjamin, Hawkins and Gabriel.

    As to K. Benjamin, I feel so bad. I hate to see major injuries but when it is a second year player with so much upside, it just makes you sick. Here’s hoping he comes back with no lingering knee issue that takes away from his speed and agility. If it is any consolation to Panthers fans, T. Benjamin tore his ACL in 2013, in 2014 played but was not explosive and the knee hindered him, but this year he has the explosiveness back. Hope Kelvin can come back the same.

  • PantherPete

    Maybe that Jarrett Boykin kid could recapture whatever he did in 2013.