Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal wrote a detailed article on the state of the Cleveland Browns wide receiver corps on Monday. Although the piece was mostly about the value of recently acquired Davone Bess, it also featured this stand-out quote from quarterback Brandon Weeden on fellow second-year Travis Benjamin:
“Travis had at least as many catches if not more than anybody in camp,” Weeden said. “His route running is phenomenal, probably because he’s so fast. Guys have to honor him running by them. He’s been getting in and out of breaks so well. Whether it’s in-breaking routes or out-breaking routes, he’s really found a knack of getting separation and giving me a chance to complete some balls. He’s had a lot of catches this camp. He’s stuck out.”
Benjamin, a speedy 23-year-old, was the team’s 4th-round draft pick out of Miami last season. With the loss of returner Josh Cribbs, Benjamin figures to be even more involved on special teams this year — along with the offense as well.
In 14 games last season, Benjamin had just 6 total returns (3 on kick-offs, 3 on punts) and 20 total touches on offense (14 catches, 6 carries). Yet, he made the most of those limited opportunities, totaling a remarkable 589 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. His two main highlights were his 93-yard punt return for touchdown in Week 13 against Kansas City and his 69-yard touchdown pass in Week 14 against Washington.
Benjamin is a 5-foot-10 and 172 pounds, while the veteran slot receiver Bess is a similar 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds. Both will be counted on not only for their possession abilities, but also for the big-play opportunity at least for the start of the season without Gordon.
Certainly, Weeden’s comments promote excitement about how Benjamin could quickly contribute this season. Head coach Rob Chudzinski utilized All-Pro 5-foot-9 receiver Steve Smith to perfection back in 2011 for Carolina, mixing in the downfield throw with occasional intermediate catches.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.