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Kelvin Benjamin shines in Charlotte while Martavis Bryant dons the Duce Staley sweats

The Steelers and Panthers both invested in big receivers in the 2014 NFL Draft. Each has a high level of potential and, while the Panthers are seeing a bit more immediate (and expected) return, the Steelers bide their time with Martavis Bryant.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers stuck rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin on a treadmill and good things happened.

Pardon the euphemism, it's just hard to get over how much weight the National Championship game hero has lost - or at least how much the Panthers' uniforms hide compared to what he was wearing at Florida State.

Benjamin looked like Calvin Johnson 2.0 in physical stature at the Combine in March. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing around 240 pounds, his Roethlisbergean frame had people wondering if he would end up going to Mike Williams "size will move him to tight end" levels, or if he could lean down a bit and boost his speed.

The comparisons to Johnson (and Williams and Roethlisberger, for that matter) can end now. He's playing at a good weight, based on watching him run, and he looks like a more-complete, focused player than he did in college. It's a good thing for Carolina, too. Judging by quarterback Cam Newton's performance against Detroit, their third-year passer looks to be ready to take another step forward in his development. Giving him a sizable downfield target, and one who's making strides in his route-running, is just the ingredient they need.

What's sort of sobering about it is the Steelers drafted Martavis Bryant in the fourth round; a player who already had slimmed down and can already play at a higher speed than Benjamin. Bryant didn't dress the first two games this year, possibly due to a separated shoulder he suffered against these same Panthers in the preseason, but partially because it appears he has the route-running comprehension of a mold spore.

That's ok, Bryant really shouldn't have been expected to make much of an impact this season. While Benjamin wasn't all that highly advanced himself coming out of college, the pair are in drastically different situations in terms of the position. The Steelers let Carolina sign (overpay?) veteran slot-receiver Jerricho Cotchery this off-season, only to see the Steelers sign a more affordable version of him in Lance Moore - and Moore will prove it as soon as he gets on the field for his first game. Carolina had close to no receivers, cutting ties with Steve Smith and letting the Patriots get ripped off by Brandon LaFell. Bringing in Jason Avant and Cotchery, plus the emergence of Benjamin, suddenly gives the Panthers some offensive weaponry, all behind the strong arm of Newton.

The Steelers have Roethlisberger in the top-five in the league in passing yards and, at times so far, he has shown the capability to get the ball to very talented receivers who can boost his stats quite a bit. Newton must feel somewhat similar about Benjamin, based on the impact the rookie is making in Charlotte. He grabbed six Derek Anderson passes in Week 1 for 92 yards and a touchdown. His 92 yards were the seventh-most for a wide receiver in the first game of his rookie season behind Anquan Boldin, Eddie Royal, DeSean Jackson, Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, and Allen Hurns. That's impressive, if you think about it. Some of those receivers are really good and didn't flame-out in Week 2.

The Steelers had visited with Benjamin at his pro day in March, leading up to the draft. They may have thought of him - widely accepted as a later first round pick due to his rawness in comparison to many other receivers available in this draft. But in the end, No. 15 was too high for Benjamin and he landed in Carolina later in the first round, where he's already making an impact.

Perhaps we'll view Bryant the same way around this time next year. For now, it appears the rookie is on his way to another game in his Duce Staley Memorial Sweatpants.

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