Are the Carolina Panthers running two tight end sets this fall? Just look at how fast converted wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is at running routes!
Perhaps the Carolina Panthers need to take a page out of the Seattle Seahawks playbook on offensive weapon weight management. Seahawks running back is doing a better job of handling excess poundage than Panthers wideout Kelvin Benjamin.
Benjamin has had his issues with weight since his playing days at Florida State. He showed up to the Panthers offseason program close to 280 pounds. While he is a big guy at 6-foot-5, Benjamin needs to play at around 245 to 250 pounds to be an effective player.
Here he is running a simple route at Panthers OTAs with anything less than blinding speed. When he plants on the dig route, Charlotte-Mecklenburg definitely felt the tremor.
This year is immensely pressurized for the Panthers. They went 6-10 in 2016 after reaching the Super Bowl in 2015. Former MVP quarterback Cam Newton saw a major regression to the mean as a passer. He did not show the necessary accuracy to elevate the Panthers passing game.
While tight end Greg Olsen continues to play at an elite level, the Panthers’ No. 1 receiver in Benjamin has been anything but that. It is only exacerbated by the elite passing offenses on display by Carolina’s NFC South rivals.
Atlanta had a historically dominant offense in 2016, reaching the Super Bowl. New Orleans is the gold standard for airing it out in the NFL. Even Tampa Bay is starting to do great things in the passing game devised by head coach Dirk Koetter.
Carolina may have invested heavily in offensive weaponry in the 2017 NFL Draft by doubling down on multifaceted player makers like Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. However, Carolina’s offense will only be as dynamic as its No. 1 receiver allows it to be. Benjamin has time to get it right physically before the start of the year, but he’s far from being in peak shape as a professional athlete.