It wasn’t two years ago that John Elway spent a 2017 fifth-round pick on Isaiah McKenzie to provide the Broncos’ return game a shot in the arm. Six fumbles later he found his way to the Buffalo Bills and Denver finished the 2018 season among the worst teams in the league by return average. Which explains the aggressive attempt to address the weakness again this offseason.
Trinity Benson is far from a household name after playing his collegiate career at East Central University. That could soon change as the 22-year-old averaged 42 yards a punt return in 2018, to go with his selection as a Great American Conference first-team wide receiver and an honorable mention as a return specialist.
For his career, the 5-foot-11 182-pound Benson had 1,700 receiving yards, playing both in the slot and outside. Coaches also searched for other ways to get the ball in his hands, including giving him reps as a Wildcat quarterback. Benson rewarded their effort by rushing 54 times for 324 yards and five touchdowns in 2018.
East Central WR Trinity Benson (5’11 182) might have earned a closer look by teams after Pro Day:— Mark Dulgerian (@MarkDulgerianOS) March 20, 2019
40: 4.35 (w/ wind)
1st play was their 1st play of the season pic.twitter.com/xFC4qiajjL
True vertical threat with 4.35 speed
Explosive athleticism with start/stop quickness.
Locates the ball well downfield, can adjust to off target throws.
Benson offers the kind of long speed to potentially grow into a lot more than a returner. While it’s true he has a huge jump ahead of him coming out of college, he shows the skills to develop into a valuable role player with patience.
Trinity Benson went undrafted in the 2019 draft class.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 5, 2019
Trinity Benson posted a Great #RAS with Poor size, Good speed, Great explosiveness, Good agility at the WR position.#Broncos pic.twitter.com/EXCaiGvY40
Former big fish in small pond. Can he survive in the ocean?
Route running tends to be a question for rookie receivers, Benson’s no exception.
Play strength a big question.
Needs work on making contested catches.
The Broncos depth chart is short on experienced proven receivers, but Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, and Tim Patrick look like locks for the roster. Emmanuel Sanders should be provided he’s recovered from his 2018 injury and Denver just spent a 6th round pick on Colorado Buffalo Juwann Winfree. Benson is going to have to turn eyes early and often if he’s going to make the final roster out of camp and may not have a long leash to develop.
As a receiver, he’s coming into such a new situation it’s impossible to predict with any certainty how he’ll take to NFL route trees and competition. He shows some traits, but his experience in OTAs are the first time he’s ever faced off against anything resembling NFL quality defensive backs.
Another East Central Receiver is NFL bound! Trinity Benson (@_TheTB) signs with the Denver Broncos to continue his football career. @ECUTigers @Broncos https://t.co/q47V8VJfGC pic.twitter.com/roP8QEIDOU— Travis Buckner - KXII (@TravisBuckner15) April 28, 2019
Trinity Benson’s roster status with the Broncos
In my first stab at projecting the Broncos final 53 I gave Trinity Benson a spot. Part of my belief comes from the situation around him. There aren’t many other players on the current roster who offer near as much potential as a returner as Benson could as an legitimate scoring threat.
If he can’t show that ability in the preseason though, he’s going to have a really tough time. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I believe the Broncos will hold onto Winfree. That’d mean 5 receiver spots currently look secure. River Cracraft, Benson, and fellow rookie Kelvin McKnight look like they’re all fighting for that last spot. Even then, Rich Scangarello may elect to carry four tight ends over six receivers.