O’Leary: He’s a physical freak
Buffalo TE Nick O’Leary was a college teammate of Benjamin’s at Florida State, where the two were a part of the Seminoles 2013 National Championship team. On several occasions, O’Leary watched Benjamin makes the impossible seem possible.
“He’s a physical freak,” O’Leary said. “The things he does makes it look easy, but they’re things that are really hard. People aren’t able to stop him. He’s just so big out there at receiver and running the way he can run. There really isn’t anybody like him at that position.”
O’Leary recalls a big game during their undefeated national title season at Florida. Benjamin had a much-publicized matchup with highly-touted Gators cornerbacks Louchiez Purifoy and Vernon Hargreaves.
The Gators decided to play man-to-man defense, which proved to be a big mistake.
“He went off against their number one guy,” O’Leary said. “I think it was Purifoy. I think he was a first-round prospect and after that game I don’t think that kid even got drafted. He was their best guy and he just embarrassed him the whole game. The things he can do is just crazy.”
Benjamin’s final stat line read as follows. Nine catches, 212 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-7 victory. The receiver’s touchdowns went for four, 24 and 45 yards.
Webb: He’s a very explosive player
Bills QB/WR Joe Webb is seen as a mentor by Benjamin. The two both arrived in Carolina as new signees of the Panthers in 2014. Benjamin was their first-round pick that year and Webb was signed as the team’s third quarterback in free agency. The two became fast friends.
Webb also found out quickly that Benjamin is capable of making just about any play over just about any defender.
“There was one catch he had against Seattle,” said Webb. “We were playing at home and he caught the ball over (Richard) Sherman and Earl Thomas. It was a post route and double coverage and he just went over the top of both of them. It was his rookie year too. It was the first time I knew he was something special.
“K.B. got up and was celebrating the first down and (Sherman and Thomas) looked at each other saying, ‘Did he just catch that?!’ Their hands were up challenging the pass and he just jumped over them. Everyone was on the sideline saying, ‘Did this dude just catch that over Sherman and Thomas?!’ He’s a very explosive player.”
How he’ll impact Bills offense
So how will Benjamin’s talents best serve the Bills offense?
Knowing it’s just his first game in a Bills uniform and he’ll have less than two weeks of time with the playbook, Benjamin’s impact may be less about what he does on the field and more about how his mere presence benefits others in the passing attack.
“I think there’s a lot he can make happen for the other guys,” Webb said. “Every time 13 is on the field you have to account for him because he’s so big and such an explosive player. I think it’s going to help our offense overall. Help the run game. Help the pass game. It’ll help Tyrod because he’s got a big body to throw it up to. The play calling will even be easier for an offensive play caller when you have a guy like 13.”
“He’s a talented receiver, a big target for sure,” said Tyrod Taylor. “As he continues to learn the playbook and the way we do things here, we have to find ways to give him opportunities to make plays.
“If you look at the plays that he’s made over the course of his career he’s definitely made a bunch of contested catches. You’ve just got to give him a chance. When he’s one-on-one with the DB, more than likely he’s going to have the size advantage.”
That’s why most opponents roll a safety over the top of the corner that’s covering him. If the opposing defense has to be mindful of Benjamin outside and LeSean McCoy and the run game, that should open up the middle of the field.
“The middle of the field will be open with him outside alone,” said Thompson. “Then with me running past people it’ll really open the middle of the field up. I’m ready to play now. I’m just ready to get going with him. I’m excited to be able to play with my childhood friend. It’s like a family affair.”’
Benjamin is excited too, but he’s also a little nervous, knowing he comes in with lofty expectations and has limited knowledge of the playbook.
“I want to knock the first game out of the way,” he told Buffalobills.com. “Then I think I’ll settle in more.”