Carolina Panthers rookie Bene’ Benwikere became a cornerback in high school when he couldn’t crack the receiving rotation at his Los Angeles-area Catholic school.

There’s no shame in that: Three of the receivers at Junipero Serra – Marqise Lee, Paul Richardson and Robert Woods – are now in the NFL, and a fourth – George Farmer – plays for Southern Cal.

“That’s how I moved to defense,” Benwikere said.

Benwikere’s switch to corner turned out to be a fortuitous move. While trying to keep up with the star-studded receiving corps at Serra, Benwikere developed the coverage and ball skills that helped him develop into a NFL prospect himself.

The Panthers traded their seventh-round draft pick to Minnesota to move up 20 spots and take Benwikere in the fifth round. The former San Jose State standout is expected to compete with veteran Charles Godfrey at the nickel corner spot.

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said the Panthers considered Benwikere in the fourth round, but believed former North Carolina safety Tre Boston was a better value there.

Gettleman was intrigued by Benwikere’s ability to make plays on the ball. Benwikere, 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, finished with 14 career interceptions at San Jose State, including seven in 2012 when he led the Western Athletic Conference and was tied for third nationally.

“He’s got excellent ball skills. He’s got 14 career picks,” Gettleman said last week during the Panthers’ rookie minicamp. “One thing I’ve learned over the years (is) if you’re an interceptor at college, you’ll be an interceptor up here.”