If you believe Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, he’s not nearly as slow as his 4.61 forty-yard dash indicates. He says his 4.61 time is the product of purposely tanking the event at the NFL Combine event. Seriously.
Benjamin’s claim is just ridiculous. Yes, it’s possible Benjamin is indeed faster than his time indicates, and maybe he just had a bad day. But to claim he purposely ran slower because he “wanted to play for the Carolina Panthers,” just doesn’t pass the smell test.
The CBS article linked to above speculates that “It means Benjamin might have just started a trend that the NFL would hate. For instance, if Jacksonville had a top-five pick and needed a speedy corner, the corner could just tank at the combine if he absolutely didn’t want to play for the Jaguars.” But that suggestion is almost as ridiculous as Benjamin’s claim. A player purposely tanking an event at a tryout serves no purpose. If a player really doesn’t want to play for a certain team — or in Benjamin’s alleged case, only wants to play for a certain team — there are plenty of ways to make such thoughts known, be it publicly or behind closed doors.
Furthermore, such a strategy could potentially cost a player millions of dollars. Dollars that a lower slotted team simply can’t, and won’t, pay a player. Consider that Benjamin’s contract with the Panthers is worth $7.66M over four years. By contrast, #4 overall pick Sammy Watkins received a contract worth $19.94M over the same length of time. Are you telling me Benjamin potentially risked over $12M simply to play for the Panthers, and not to be the first receiver taken? If that’s the case, maybe teams should have passed on Benjamin not because of his lack of elite speed, but for his lack of intelligence.