Looking at the overrated guys (in my opinion)

Flirting with greatness, Kelvin Benjamin has a lot to work on

There are quite a few players eligible for the 2014 draft that I just think are flat out overrated.

Let’s not mistake that for feeling they have no shot at making it. It’s just about grading and where I think they’ll end up going in the draft.

I’m really surprised how often I see Buffalo’s Khalil Mack ranked as a top-15 prospect. He had a ton of production the last two years. But considering he’s an OLB/pass rusher, he looks like a pretty good athlete and not a brilliant difference maker. Will his knack of making plays translate to the next level? I’m not convinced.

There’s also some not-often discussed character issues. ESPN’s Scouts Inc (who rank Mack as the #7 overall prospect for 2014) report he “will test the limits” and “rubs some team mates the wrong way”. He was suspended for the 2012 season opener for breaking a team rule. It’s something scouts will look into.

The Notre Dame pair Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt seem to be getting by on reputation after a pretty disappointing 2013 season. Of the two, Nix is the one with the biggest upside. He is a good player. But is he ever going to be able to manage his weight situation and stay in game shape? It’s hampered his progress significantly this year and is enough of a concern to temper expectations for the next level.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier at Ohio State looks like a very limited prospect and hardly ever makes plays beyond the LOS. You’ll find him in a lot of first round mocks, but for me he’s got next to no chance of finding a home in round one.

Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald has ten sacks for the year — but on tape gives off a definite ‘JAG’ vibe. There’s very little that’s special about his game — size, speed, technique. He looks like a mid-to-late rounder who can slot into a rotation at the three tech. I can’t grade him any higher than that, despite a productive season.

Speaking of players who are producing — Stanford’s Trent Murphy leads the NCAA for sacks with 14. He’s also starting to receive first round grades in the media. I like the guy — he always gives 100% effort. But what is he? He’s not an explosive speed rusher and won’t work the edge. He’s not suited to play inside. Is he a five-technique? From what I’ve seen this year, a mid-round grade in rounds 3/4 would be fair.

Will Sutton continues to divide opinion. I’m still siding with the critics. He’s a streaky player — with hideous tape to match the good tape. Is he explosive enough with the correct hand technique and burst to find a home as a three tech? I’m still not convinced.

And Jace Amaro. Great stats for a tight end at Texas Tech. But does the tape show a dynamic, pass catching difference maker? Or a basic player and the by-product of a system that has consistently put up enormous yardage in the passing game?

There are others too. But I wanted to focus on a fast riser over the last few weeks who’s being talked about as a possible first rounder.

Kelvin Benjamin, wide receiver, Florida State.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan. At times he really looks the part — charging downfield, breaking tackles. He has 14 touchdowns for the year, which is pretty incredible even on an unbeaten team. Florida State aren’t a prolific spread offense that generates production regardless of opponent. They use a pretty conventional looking pro-style offense — so 14 touchdowns is quite a feat.

At 6-5 and 235lbs he has the size all teams dream of. You want a receiver who has those kind of measurable’s. It’s perhaps the one thing Seattle still lacks on offense — a dynamic big man who can just flat out dominate in the red zone and make jump balls look easy.

Here’s the issue though. Benjamin, for the most part, just looks lethargic. It’s like he’s playing at his pace.

And his pace aint fast.

For every brilliant catch and run, there’s a sloppy route. There’s a mind-numbing drop. There’s a coast, a saunter. There’s a missed block. All the ingredients of a player who knows he can be good, but doesn’t crave being great.

He might be the most frustrating player I’ve watched this year.

Let’s compare him to the other high profile big man eligible for the 2014 draft — Mike Evans. While Benjamin’s effort is questionable at best, Evans nearly always plays like it’s his last ever game.

I know his last two outings against Missouri and LSU were tough — but both teams found an effective way to shut down Johnny Manziel.

When the Texas A&M offense clicks, we see what Evans is about.

He runs back to the quarterback to offer a target, he fights to get open, he wins more jumps balls than any other receiver in college and he’s a determined and driven individual.

Benjamin, in comparison, is the exact opposite. Where’s the fire? Where’s the fight?

Here are two examples on tape. On both occasions he’s statistically impressive. But watch his performances against Boston College and Florida and tell me what you see.

Given Jameis Winston isn’t eligible for the NFL until 2015, he’d be better off staying at FSU and putting another year under his belt. Work on technique — especially route running and tracking the ball. He needs to be more sudden and explosive getting into his breaks. He’s a long speed guy — meaning he goes through the gears downfield, but at the next level he’s going to need to get open in a few steps and not just rely on his size.

Demaryius Thomas is great because he runs a 4.38 at 6-3 and 229lbs. I doubt Benjamin would get anywhere near a 4.38, so he can’t avoid to have black marks next to so many other aspects of his game. Not if he wants to go in round one.

Cutting out the horrific drops is also vital. In a years time if he’s got another boat-load of touchdowns, eliminated the drops and worked on his overall technique — he could be a high draft pick. Right now he looks like a second or third rounder at best.

I’ll say it again — that’s so frustrating. Because looking at the game stood in his pads, he should be a top-15 pick. I suspect he could be if he really wanted to be.

And I’ll say this — in that round 2/3 range I’d consider him. There is potential there. And there aren’t many guys who can do what he does at that size. But he’ll be a long term project. He’d be the type of receiver you don’t really get anything out of in year one or two.

If I’m drafting a receiver to work on as a project, I’d still favour Brandon Coleman at Rutgers. He too has the unique size, but he looks faster and is a little less frustrating (only just).

But he also hasn’t had the benefit of playing with the Heisman favourite at quarterback this year.


  1. Matt

    I wouldn’t say Kelvin Benjamin is lazy, but it does feel he’s a bit slow off the ball and in his breaks. He still finds ways to get open though. He isn’t a real impact player when the ball isn’t thrown to him (Golden Tate actually blocks) and he doesn’t seem to be very active in his run blocks. Doesn’t seem like a PC type of guy to me.

    • Matt

      P.S Do you think there’s any chance we trade up for Mike Evans? I am a HUGE fan and think he would elevate our offense to new heights….Possibly the most unstoppable offense in the NFL. This would probably mean Rice is the odd man out.

      • Dannn

        Think Rice is gone regardless… Alshon is not very fast but is just so big. I honestly didn’t think he’d be able to do it in the league

      • Rob Staton

        I wouldn’t rule anything out. I think they’re in a position now where they can afford to be pro-active like that. A receiver like Evans is really the only missing piece on the offense.

        Much depends on what happens at WR. If they simply can’t afford to re-sign Golden Tate and cut Sidney Rice, it becomes a major need. Particularly with Doug Baldwin likely to be playing on a one-year RFA tender. So sure, this is possible.

  2. House

    Benjamin has some intrigue, IF he plays. He has the capability to be great, but I’ve seen a lot of tape with him not blocking. He reminds me of Marcus Davis from Virginia Tech. Athletic as all he’ll, but not a team player/questionable work ethic that comes/goes.

    Positives are his size. You can’t teach that and it’s hard to get him down. I think the 2nd rd is where he goes unless he destroys Auburn and then the Combine

  3. David ESS

    Hey Rob, hope you and your family are doing good.

    i was wondering what you thought the chance of the hawks going after Johnathan Martin is? I didnt watch of him in College, just remember hearing some decent things about him, do you see the hawks possibly going after him maybe. I dont know how good of a fit he would be in Cables ZBS, but Cable loves coaching up his O-line so thought he might be interested.

    Heres to the Hawks hopefully going WR in the draft at some point, i love the thought of the hawks getting a big WR target.

    and what do you think the chances are if McCoy comes back next year (2014-15) that the Hawks maybe Re-do Millers contract? I’ve liked Luke Willson alot this year hes progressing fast, least thats my opinion. hope all is good on the Staton front. have a good day.

    • Rob Staton

      Hey David, thanks for the kind words.

      I’ve never a big fan of ex/current Stanford linemen. In fact I’m a major sceptic. They are nearly all technique driven, well coached guys who execute to a tee. But at the next level they often look ordinary. Martin wasn’t the most aggressive player in college and despite all the issues in Miami — he just doesn’t look like the type of player Tom Cable goes after. But I could be wrong. They may see him as a high value project. I will say though that at this stage I think it’s unlikely.

      I think there’s a good chance McCoy comes back and I hope he does. This is a guy who has shown from his USC days so much promise and I think we were starting to see it come together at the end of last year. He has history with Pete Carroll and I doubt one injury will just put an end to that. I expect to see him in camp with the Hawks next year. Miller’s contract actually dips significantly in 2014. His cap hit is $4m lower next season. So they might extend it by another year (to a three year deal) and spread the cost out, but I think that’s about the most we should expect.

  4. Kenny Sloth

    He seems really really low effort. In everything. His breaks, catching, blocking, getting off the ball, blocking, jump balls. They might take a chance on him in the third. Second if he absolutely destroys the combine. Which he might.

    Definitely looks much smaller than people are saying he is. looks like 6’2 200. Like a little bit bigger than Robert Woods.

  5. Kenny Sloth

    Gator Hoskins is a TE out of Marshall. Senior. 6’2 244 so not really the size we’re probably looking for, but he’s got good hands, wins jump balls, blocks well and plays hard late in blowouts. Could be a possible convert to FB.

    Victor Hampton CB SCAR 5’10 202 RSJ. He’s quick, physical, instinctive, and apparently has a great attitude winning numerous team awards for it. Could possibly be a spot back up to ET. Something I still feel we desperately need.

    Trae Waynes CB MSU 6’1 185 RS soph. Will almost definitely stay in school, but is certainly one to watch. Explosive, agile, seems cerebral. Has great feet. Could definitely stand to add ten pounds. Great length.

  6. oz

    Benjamin body catches too much, develops alligator arms going across the middle, doesn’t work back to his QB when in trouble, lackadaisical blocker, doesn’t consistently flow to space when in need, no sense of urgency. That’s what I saw, an immature player in the football sense. Needs a lot of work.

    • David ESS

      I dont remember the scouting report on Golden Tate when he came out, but i do recall his lack of Hands catching and how he would rely on body catching. Again, i dont know what tates big question marks were besides the body catching so i could be making a dull argument.

      Rob i dont know if you have done a write up on him yet but L”damian Washington (Missouri) is someone i am interested in and i could see the hawks going for him possibly, hes got good length and good speed. If the hawks do want to go for WR i could see them going after him maybe mid rounds.

  7. AlaskaHawk

    Rob – I hope you can find film for two of my favorite receivers: Davante Adams and Josh Harper with Fresno State. They looked good in the recent film of QB Carr that you posted. What caught my eye was their good hands (even a one handed grab) and fighting for the ball. They look like Hawk material to me. Adams has just declared and will probably go in first round or high second. Harper may slip under the radar and be a 4-6 rounder.

    • Rob Staton

      I think there’s some out there because of the attention Derek Carr is getting. I’ll see what I can find.

  8. Attyla the Hawk

    Benjamin reminds me a lot of Alshon Jeffery when he came out. You could see the physical talent at times. But both really had a lot of issues to work through. Jeffery may have even had a tougher time considering his lack of conditioning dovetailed into the criticisms of his work ethic.

    Benjamin will have to work at the NFL level to smooth his rough edges. That’s never a guarantee. You can’t project him in the first round based on that. But he is a guy not unlike Coleman, who can flash brilliance and leave you befuddled that he doesn’t care on consecutive plays.

    I’d probably still rate Coleman higher. Namely because you can more easily explain his poor performance by injury and terrible QB play. But both players are going to have to really work hard once they get into an NFL camp to grow.

    • Kenny Sloth

      In fairness, Benjamin doesn’t have the same body type as Jeffery. Alshon was definitely in the Anquan Boldin Mold whereas Benjamin is more of the AJ Green type. There is a big disparity in thickness and girth. Which is why I struggle to see Benjamin winning jumpballs and being able to box out at the next level.

  9. Jake


    What about Cody Hoffman (BYU) in the middle rounds as a bigger WR for the Hawks?

    He’s 6’4″ and has broken every BYU receiving record (no mean feat) playing with some marginal (to be generous) talent at QB.

    • Rob Staton

      To be honest whenever I’ve watched him he’s been a big disappointment.

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