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Kelvin Benjamin has Carolina Panthers' brass excited

When general manager Dave Gettleman compared physical first-round draft pickKelvin Benjamin to a young Plaxico Burress, the obvious question was whether the Carolina Panthers could expect an immediate impact.

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Selected No. 8 overall In the 2000 NFL Draft, Burress managed just 22 receptions for 273 yards and zero touchdowns as a rookie.

With a glaring vacancy atop the wide-receiver depth chart, the Panthers won't have the luxury of easing Benjamin into the NFL as the Steelers did with Burress.

Through a dozen offseason practices, coach Ron Rivera has seen enough to believe Benjamin will have a major role right out of the gate.

"You draft him for a specific skill set," Rivera said, via The Associated Press. "He can become a threat in the red zone and a threat for you on third down and have an immediate impact doing those things for us. It was good to see him do those things and good to see him work with Cam (Newton) as well. I'm excited as to where he's heading and what he can become for us."

Although the draft community had questions about Benjamin's adjustment to the NFL after a strikingly slow shuttle time at the NFL Scouting Combine, Gettleman is confident he made the correct call late in the first round.

"What goes through your mind is the possibilities," Gettleman said of Benjamin, per the team's official website. "If you can't do it in practice, you are not going to do it in a game. You look at the possibilities with his skills and what he's capable of. It's a confirmation of college scouting and the evaluation process. It's fun, obviously."

Gettleman and Rivera have to be encouraged by the early signs of Benjamin's work ethic as well. The rookie will stay in Charlotte in the month leading up to training camp, catching passes from a rehabbing Cam Newton.

If the Panthers want to avoid the ignominy of rolling out the NFL's "sorriest" collection of wide receivers, Benjamin will have to be as advertised in September.

In the latest episode of the "Around The League Podcast," the heroes discuss the winners and losers of minicamp season.

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