AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Panthers have selected wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State with the 28th overall pick in the NFL draft, giving them a potential long-term replacement for Steve Smith.
The 6-foot-5, 241-pound Benjamin had 54 receptions for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns last season for the national champion Seminoles.
He fills a major need for Carolina.
Carolina's top four wide receivers from last year's NFC South championship team are gone including Smith, their all-time leader in receptions, yards receiving and touchdowns.
The Panthers released Smith, and Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon left via free agency. They restocked the shelves by adding free agents Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood and Jason Avant.
Benjamin is the first receiver taken in the first round by Carolina since Rae Carruth in 1997.