It is widely known now around the league and the Rams faithful that veteran corner Coty Sensabaugh has been released by the Rams. They however, weren’t the only team exterior decorating. The Carolina Panthers released 25-year-old starting corner and former fifth-round draft pick out of San Jose State
— Bené Benwikere after Falcons WR Julio Jones torched him and the Panthers secondary for 300 receiving yards.
So why even touch Benwikere? For starters he is 25-years-old and he was starting. Benwikere has good size at 6-foot-0 and 192 pounds. He’s shown flashes of becoming a good number-two corner. He is too young to completely give up on in my personal opinion and I’m not sure why a team that is decimated with injuries (that let one of the best shut-down corners in the game, Josh Norman walk away) decided to part with their starter. Benwikere if you didn’t know, broke his leg last season and he has been trying to come back from it.
Rookie-CB James Bradberry was supposed to shadow Jones last week anyway but due to him going down with an injury Benwikere was forced to step in. Now, he clearly isn’t the CB we have seen previously but the Panthers seemed a little too quick to throw the blame on a guy who broke his leg 10-months ago who went from originally going to cover WR Muhammad Sanu to instead having to cover a top-two WR in the NFL. It appears as though the two parties of Benwikere and the Panthers clearly didn’t mesh and that explains why Benwikere was shown the door.
What does Benwikere bring to the table? He has shown that size unlike some is not a factor for him being outplayed. His speed in the late 4.5 seconds is not deal-breaking, he poses a threat with his crazy 40.5-inch vertical jump, he’s intelligent, he has shown in the past he can be a special teams ace and when playing the corner position he has the hands to intercept passes like a Wide receiver who can high point the ball at will. His overall issue is that he doesn’t have the crazy sprinter speed that makes teams salivate and he isn’t very strong. He needs to improve his strength and could add some more weight but, he’s not going to step in and be the no.1, no.2 or even the no.3 corner.
The Rams aren’t going to miss Sensabaugh but it’s worth nothing that the Rams now have only four Cornerbacks on the roster (Trumaine Johnson, E.J. Gaines, Troy Hill & LaMarcus Joyner). Benwikere seems to make sense for a team that could use him as their fourth or fifth corner. Bear in mind as much as Rams fans love E.J. Gaines, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. When Gaines is healthy he is effective but the question is if he can stay healthy. The Rams do have Mike Jordan on their practice squad who could be called up onto the active roster too. However, Benwikere has experience and even so, shouldn’t cost too much as his stock is declining.
If the Rams gave him a shot he might pay dividends. How many times have the Rams taken a player who appeared to be done and turned them into something. Benwikere clearly wasn’t valued by the Panthers and the way the Panthers are seemingly going downhill in the worst way perhaps they felt the need to make some kind of splash. The Rams made the smart move in letting go of Sensabaugh (although signing him for the same money as Casey Hayward seems unforgivable).
Now they should continue to make the smart move and look at buying low on Benwikere. This may say more bad about Sensabaugh than good for Benwikere but even with Benwikere giving up the sixth most all-time yards in a game to a WR (which he did last week versus Jones) he still is rated ahead of Sensabaugh on Pro Football Focus. Benwikere has had a positive grade of over an 80 on PFF in the past and perhaps it’s just taking him longer than anticipated to get back to his normal play. Regardless the Rams should capitalize on the Panthers blunder of letting go of a young talented corner.
What do you guys think about Benwikere? Let us know!