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Kelvin Benjamin: Slow 40 helped me fall to Panthers

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Kelvin Benjamin slipped to No. 28 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft after running a sluggish 4.61 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.

To hear the Panthers rookie tell it, the slow time was no accident.

"Because I wanted to play for the Carolina Panthers," Benjamin said this week, via ESPN.com's David Newton.

Benjamin added that he had been clocked as high as a 4.41, which would have ranked fifth among 2014 wide-receiver prospects.

The sentiment is sure to put a smile on the faces of Panthers fans, but it strains credulity that a prospect would tank a combine drill and risk losing millions of dollars.

Pro Football Talk reports, via a Panthers source, Benjamin was merely joking about sandbagging the 40.

"Wasn't even close to being serious," the source added. "Didn't know he was being interviewed for a story."

Whether or not speed questions artificially deflated Benjamin's draft stock, Cam Newton calls it a "blessing in disguise" that the Mid-season All-Rookie selection fell in Carolina's lap.

"His role on this team has far surpassed any type of rookie's expectation," Newton said.

Deemed by NFL Media's Michael Irvin as "the steal of the draft," Benjamin is neck-and-neck with Sammy Watkins as the best of a historically great wide-receiver class.

At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Benjamin has been beating veteran defensive backs at the point of the catch -- as evidenced by an acrobatic 51-yard grab over All Pros Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas in Week 8.

Speedy or not, Benjamin's heroics have already captured the imagination of one of America's most dynamic athletes:

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