Kelvin Benjamin isn’t talented enough to help the Chiefs at wide receiver, but he could be a dangerous weapon as the team’s second tight end.
One practice with the Kansas City Chiefs should disabuse Kelvin Benjamin of any notion that he has what it takes to be a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. He’s not on the same stratosphere as guys like Tyreek Hill or even Sammy Watkins. That doesn’t mean he can’t help Andy Reid’s offense, though.
Instead of using him as a physical outside receiver, the Chiefs’ brilliant head coach should make Benjamin the team’s second tight end. He’s not going to replace Travis Kelce’s role in the passing game, but he can give opposing defenses one more things to worry about when trying to stop the Chiefs offense.
At the moment, the conventional wisdom believes the Chiefs are just signing the former first-round pick to provide injury insurance in case Watkins isn’t able to play this weekend. That may be the prudent short-term play for Kansas City, but there are much more interesting things they can do with the jumbo pass catcher.
Reid is the perfect coach to convince Benjamin to buy into this type of role. He’s only signing a one-year deal with the Chiefs which means he’ll hit free agency in the offseason. His only chance of receiving a meaningful contract is if he plays a significant role for Kansas City down the stretch. That means he must do whatever Reid asks of him.
Deploying Benjamin as a hybrid tight end/slot receiver is his best chance to make an impact heading into the playoffs. He obviously has the size to play as an in-line blocker. Social media is littered with jokes about his weight. Instead of playing as a slow wide receiver, he should commit to becoming a tight end with above average speed.
One of Benjamin’s strengths is his ability to block smaller defensive backs out on the edge. That’s perfect fit for the sort of runs the Chiefs like to try out on the edge. It’s easy to envision him swallowing up an overmatched slot corner to free Spencer Ware for a big game.
His presence on the field will also free Kelce up to run the sort of routes he runs best. At times, he’s forced to stay relatively close to the line of scrimmage to serve as Patrick Mahomes’ security blanket. If Benjamin can take that responsibility away from Kelce, it should lead to even more explosive plays by the Pro Bowl tight end. The more times the Chiefs can free Kelce to run deep routes down the seam the more dangerous their offense can become.
If Benjamin can’t play well in this offense then he will really struggle to find work next season. He needs Reid to save his career and repair his reputation. That can only happen if he’s willing to slide inside and play tight end.