NEW YORK – The Carolina Panthers selected Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin with the 28th overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft late Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall.
Benjamin becomes the fifth first-round pick of the of the Jimbo Fisher era (since 2011) and is the 40th Florida State first-round pick all-time.
“I was nervous, at the same time I just put my trust in God,” Benjamin said. “Whatever team falls in love with me, I’m just going to come put my heart into that organization. I’m ready to get up to (Charlotte) and meet the fans and see the city. I think for the most part it will be a (smooth transition). We ran a pro-style offense and (Carolina) runs a pro-style offense. I just have to get in there and learn and put the work in. That’s what I plan on doing. I guess you can say I’ve been a fan (of the Panthers) since Cam (Newton) came. I always dreamed of coming and playing with Cam and contributing to the organization. (I admire) his will to compete and win. That’s something Jameis (Winston) had. That’s something I love with a quarterback and I will go and do anything for him.”
Benjamin is the first Seminole wide receiver drafted since 2007 (Chris Davis, fourth round, Titans) and the highest since Javon Walker was drafted No. 20 overall by the Green Bay Packers in 2002.
“I’m extremely proud and happy for (Benjamin),” Fisher said. “He has worked extremely hard to get to where he has gotten today. He’s extremely talented, but I truly believe his best football is ahead of him. We are very fortunate to have had him at Florida State. He was a critical part of our National Championship team. He was one of the great players in Florida State history and he is going to be a great pro.”
Benjamin was the Seminoles’ breakout star in 2013. The 6-5, 240-pound receiver led the ACC and tied the FSU record with 15 touchdown receptions, including the game-winning 2-yard score with 13 seconds remaining in BCS National Championship. His signature performance came against rival Florida in the Swamp when he caught nine balls for 212 yards and three touchdowns. The Belle Glade, Fla., finished the season with 54 receptions for 1,011 yards. He averaged 18.7 yards per catch and one touchdown every 3.6 catches – the second-best mark in the country among wide receivers. He captured All-ACC Second Team honors and Sports Illustrated tabbed Benjamin a First Team All-American.
Benjamin joins former Seminole Graham Gano on the Panthers current roster. He is the first Seminole drafted by the Panthers since Everette Brown in 2009 (second round, no. 43).
Several Seminoles are projected to be drafted during Friday’s second and third rounds. Fisher will be part of the NFL Network’s Pre-Draft Show at 5:30 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on NFL.com. Friday’s broadcast begins at 7 p.m.