football Edit

Ranking with the stars: Kelvin Benjamin

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is back, and in a big way, after missing last season with a knee injury. After an opening game where he caught six passes for 91 yards and a score in a loss to the Denver Broncos, Benjamin torched the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday with seven catches for 108 yards and two more scores.

We thought it would be interesting to look at who was ranked ahead of Benjamin, the No. 8 receiver in the Rivals rankings in 2011, back in the day.

We call it Ranking With The Stars.

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report

MORE: Ranking with the stars: Gronkowski | Newton


The skinny: While Farmer was long considered a USC lean, he still took official visits to Florida, California and Oregon. Despite the visits, Farmer still did what most expected and committed to the Trojans. At USC, Farmer's career never materialized. After seeing minimal playing time in 2011 and 2012, he tore his ACL and MCL before the 2013 season, which caused him to sit out the year. Farmer returned for the 2014 season, but after totaling 30 receptions during his collegiate career he surprised many by leaving USC early and declaring for the 2015 NFL Draft. After going undrafted he has seen time with Dallas and Seattle, but has yet to see any playing time and is currently an unsigned free agent.

Farrell’s take: One of the biggest busts in the history of, Farmer had so much talent coming out of high school it’s hard to imagine that he didn’t make much of an impact, injury aside. His athleticism is the reason he got any look in the NFL and is highlighted by the fact that the Seahawks, arguably the best defensive team in football, gave him a look at defensive back, although it could have been a favor by Pete Carroll. The injury didn’t help, but I don’t think it was the reason he was a bust. He just never seemed to want it badly enough.

The skinny: LSU and Ole Miss received long looks from Metoyer, but Oklahoma always stood out to the Texas receiver so a commitment followed in March. However, he did not qualify academically, so Metoyer spent a prep season at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia before making the move to Oklahoma. In Norman, he showed potential during his freshman season in 2012, finishing with 17 receptions for 148 yards and one touchdown. Greater things were expected from Metoyer in 2013, but that never became reality as he was dismissed from the team by head coach Bob Stoops after being charged with two felony counts of indecent exposure. In early 2014, Metoyer was arrested again for felony indecent exposure. Finally, in 2015 he was sentenced to eight years probation for his 2013 indecent exposure charges.

Farrell’s take: Another waste of talent, this time for off-the-field issues which are, of course, impossible to predict. Metoyer was very explosive and was a deep threat and could have been a star in college and possibly beyond had he kept out of trouble. He was on the right path to stardom and was very explosive, but derailed his career.

The skinny: Watkins had plenty offers to choose from, but Clemson, Miami and Michigan were three of the schools that stood out from the start. Two offseason visits to Clemson were enough to put the Tigers over the top, as Watkins committed in late November. Watkins burst onto the collegiate scene at Clemson in 2011, finishing with 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns. He then turned in a memorable 2013 season with 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. Watkins decided to forego his senior season and was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft by Buffalo, where he set single-season rookie receiving records with 65 receptions for 982 yards. He had another productive season in 2015 and now is hoping to take his game to the next level this season, although a lingering foot injury could slow that progress down.

Farrell’s take: Watkins was an absolute star in high school and college and is emerging as a potential star in the NFL. One of the most gifted pass catchers I’ve seen, his body control was off the charts and he worked the sidelines and corner of the end zone so well. Watkins was a deep threat but also very good at moving the chains and was one of the biggest commits in Clemson history, stealing him out of South Florida.

The skinny: Landry committed very early to LSU, and while there were times during his commitment that he left the door open a little bit, he stuck with his word and signed with the Tigers. Landry saw limited playing time as a true freshman but then burst onto the scene in 2012 with 56 receptions for 573 yards and five touchdowns. Landry continued his improvement in 2013, as he teamed up with Odell Beckham Jr. (see below) to form one of the more dynamic receiving duos in the country. After deciding to forego his senior season, Landry was selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by Miami, where he has had two fantastic seasons, especially last fall when he totaled 110 receptions for 1,157 yards and four touchdowns. He’s off to another great start this season.

Farrell’s take: Landry is emerging as a star in the NFL and was a guy who put up good numbers in college despite the constant LSU quarterback woes. Landry had good size, was a deep threat with speed and he had very good hands. Similar to Watkins, he had great body control and feet, but it was his internal drive, that fire that motivates, that really stood out and continues to show in the NFL.

The skinny: Blackmon had an interesting recruiting process, which culminated in his commitment to Oregon over both USC and UCLA during the Under Armour All-America Game. Blackmon redshirted during his freshman season and then after only three games and no receptions decided to transfer out of Oregon in 2012. He found his way to Riverside City College for the 2013 season, where he was a three-star JUCO recruit in the Class of 2014, before he committed to BYU over Utah and Boise State. After a disappointing first season in Provo, Blackmon totaled 46 receptions for 699 yards last fall. He went undrafted this spring and is currently an unsigned free agent.

Farrell’s take: We overshot this one as Blackmon just never emerged as the slot receiving star we expected out of high school, but we re-calibrated after evaluating him out of JUCO. He played mostly quarterback in high school so it took him some time to learn how to run routes, but he was excellent in the open field and changed direction on a dime.

The skinny: Growing up a fan of LSU, Beckham trimmed his favorites down to the Tigers and Miami before making the decision to stay in state. After three very productive seasons with LSU, Beckham declared for the NFL draft in 2014. Selected with the No. 12 overall pick by the New York Giants, Beckham Jr. took the NFL by storm as a rookie. Despite missing the first few games of the season due to injury, he still won the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award after finishing with 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has continued to dominate the league and has firmly established himself as one of the top receivers in the game.

Farrell’s take: This is a pretty good one-two punch in the class of 2011 for LSU, huh? Beckham Jr. has become a star in the NFL and surpassed Landry, but both are among the top 10 or so wideouts in the league. Not bad coming from a team (LSU) that couldn’t fully utilize them due to bland offensive play calling and quarterback issues. Beckham had great hands in high school but nothing like what we see today with those one-handed grabs.

The skinny: Brassell originally committed to Mississippi State in October, however he almost immediately made it known that the door was still open for other schools. Official visits followed to Alabama and Ole Miss, which eventually led to him signing with the Rebels on National Signing Day. Braswell had a promising freshman season in Oxford, but academic issues led him to a junior college in 2012. He returned to Ole Miss after his one JUCO season, but he never made it back on the field as he was dismissed from the program in August of 2013. His collegiate eligibility ended soon after as he signed a contract with the Toronto Argonauts, and he has since bounced around the CFL and Arena League.

Farrell’s take: Like Metoyer, Brassell got off to a solid start in college but self-destructed albeit in less offensive fashion than his counterpart. Brassell was exceptional after the catch not only being elusive and showing off excellent burst, but he was physical for his size as well. He had the makings of a star in college and perhaps beyond, but lost all momentum after heading to JUCO despite success there as well. He was also a heckuva defender when he wanted to be as well.

The Skinny: While Benjamin took official visits to Florida State and Marshall, this came down to the Seminoles and Florida Gators. He committed to Florida State in early January, at the conclusion of his official visit to Tallahassee and a few days before his scheduled official visit to Gainesville. After redshirting in 2011, Benjamin began to show his potential in 2012. He then exploded onto the scene in 2013 as he and Jameis Winston connected for 54 receptions, 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns. Selected with the 28th overall pick in the 2014 Draft by Carolina, Benjamin had a huge rookie season before a serious knee injury during the preseason last summer caused him to miss 2015. Now fully healthy, Benjamin is once again teaming up with Cam Newton to form a lethal duo in the NFL.

Farrell’s take: Benjamin was a huge receiver coming out of high school with solid hands and sneaky speed. Although he wasn’t a guy who would consistently run away from you, he was very good at getting a bit of separation and then using his massive frame and leaping ability to win the battle for the ball. He was a raw route runner, very raw, and was an older high school player than most in his class, but being a bit new to football we felt it would take some time for him to develop. He’s a perfect example of a boom-bust prospect as he was either going to be a star or a flop in our eyes, with a high ceiling but low floor. He’s obviously taken then boom route.