Kelvin Benjamin had a long wait but he landed on a playoff team and will catch passes from another Heisman Trophy winner.
The Carolina Panthers selected Benjamin with the No. 28 overall pick on Thursday night.
”I’m happy to be a Carolina Panthers,” Benjamin said in a video message on Instagram. ”I am ready to get out there and start catching passes from Cam Newton.”
Benjamin had a breakout 2013 season as a redshirt sophomore, grabbing 54 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns. He caught the game-winning pass from Jameis Winston with 13 seconds left in the BCS championship game, helping Florida State defeat Auburn.
”I’m extremely proud and happy for KB,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. ”He has worked extremely hard to get to where he has gotten today. We are very fortunate to have had him at Florida State. He was a critical part of our National Championship team.”
The Panthers are rebuilding their receiving corps after losing star Steve Smith, who had seven 1,000-yard seasons but was released by the team in March and signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
While Benjamin caught passes from Heisman winner Jameis Winston in 2013, he will not be grabbing passes from 2010 Heisman winner Cam Newton. And the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Benjamin is quite the target.
”His size, his catch radius is phenomenal,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. ”He’s got a high ceiling.”
Florida State has now had a player selected in the first round in four of the past five years. In 2013, quarterback EJ Manuel (Bills), defensive end Bjoern Werner (Colts) and cornerback Xavier Rhodes (Vikings) were taken. Quarterback Christian Ponder was taken by the Vikings in 2011, and Patrick Robinson was picked by the Saints in 2010.