ESPN commentator Booger McFarland once famously quipped that Buffalo Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was a “Popeyes biscuit away from being a tight end.”
Now, after more than two years out of the league, the former first-round pick is trying to make that a reality. Benjamin has found a new team and a new position, hoping that his size will allow him to re-start what once appeared to be a promising career.
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Benjamin Heads to New York
As NFL.com noted, the New York Giants are giving Benjamin a tryout this weekend during their rookie minicamp, but he is no longer listed at wide receiver. The big pass-catcher is instead trying to make the roster as a tight end, which the report noted is part of Giants general manager Dave Gettleman’s plan to upgrade the tight end position after having already signed Kyle Rudolph.
As Bills fans remember, Benjamin struggled with his playing size during his career, coming to Buffalo via trade in the 2017 season after having gained weight while with the Carolina Panthers. There were reports that Benjamin had shown up to training camp that season weighing close to 280 pounds, roughly 35 pounds above his playing weight, and he looked unusually slow in going through his routes.
The Panthers denied that Benjamin had reached 280, but head coach Ron Rivera said publicly that his weight was a concern.
“He is a little heavy. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. We talked about what he has to do, and he’s done a great job,” Ron Rivera, via the Charlotte Observer.
“Am I concerned? Yes, because he is heavy. I’m going to admit that right now. But is he working hard? Absolutely. He’s been there everyday and done the things we’ve asked him to do, and it’s all strictly on a voluntary basis.”
Benjamin Looks for Redemption
As NFL.com noted, many league scouts had originally pegged Benjamin as a tight end when he entered the league back in 2014. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound receiver excelled in that first season with Cam Newton, catching 73 passes for 1,008 yards. He added another 941 the next season, a two-year total nearly identical to what fellow 2014 first-round pick Sammy Watkins had for the Bills during that time.
Benjamin was cut by the Bills in 2018 and picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he played in three games, catching two passes for 26 total yards on five targets. He has been out of the league since then, but now has the chance at an NFL comeback with the Giants.
Though Benjamin was officially listed as a tight end for the team in the tryout, Giants head coach Joe Judge referred to him as a “flex tight end” who could potentially move around the field. Judge hinted that the team may find some more creative ways to use the big pass-catcher.
“He’s a big guy, he’s always been a big receiver,” Judge said, via NJ.com. “I wouldn’t pin him down to any one position at this point.”