Continued from page 1

The Panthers also need a left tackle after Jordan Gross retired following 11 seasons in Carolina. But five offensive tackles were taken before Carolina’s pick and plenty of options at wide receiver were left on the board, including Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee.

Benjamin was the fifth wide receiver selected in the NFL draft behind Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham and Brandin Cooks.

Benjamin spent two years at Florida State before turning professional. As a freshman he played in 14 games but only caught 30 passes for 495 yards and four TDs. But he burst on the scene last season, dominating competition with his size and leaping ability.

Gettleman said he was particularly impressed with how Benjamin improved at the end of the season.

He had 21 receptions for 446 yards and eight TDs in his final four games including the winning touchdown catch in the BCS national championship game against Auburn, Newton’s old team.

“I’m a big physical receiver who can go up and get the ball at its highest point,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin said he’s never met Newton, but said he’s been a Carolina fan ever since he joined the Panthers in 2011.

The Panthers have two picks on Saturday - one in the second round (60th overall) and another in the third (92nd).



AP NFL website: and