Electric Travis Benjamin Should Inspire Hope for Cleveland Browns Fans

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2012

Sep 16, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin (80) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US Presswire
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns rookie receiver Travis Benjamin is a spark of hope for the fanbase and a great building block for the franchise moving forward. 

The Browns organization made Benjamin the No. 100 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft this past year, and he's slowly worked his way into playing time and been productive. 

Entering Cleveland's Week 14 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, Benjamin had caught just 10 passes for 140 yards and one touchdowns.

Not the most impressive numbers just yet, but he's had to work his way up the depth chart while competing for playing time with the likes of Josh Cooper, Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Gordon and others. 

Benjamin was such an attractive pick for the Browns in the draft. Outside of being an explosive weapon on every offensive down, he's an elite athlete who can field kicks and punts and has a chance to not only help the team win the field position battle, but return the occasional kicks for touchdowns. 

That's exactly what Benjamin did in against Kansas City when he put the Browns ahead in the second quarter by fielding a punt deep in Cleveland territory and returning it 93 yards for a touchdown. 

It's a great sign for the Browns, a team that needs a spark on both the offensive side of things as well as on the special teams unit. The special teams already has one of the NFL's best returners in Josh Cribbs, so pairing him with someone as special as Benjamin is smart. 

Benjamin will eventually replace Cribbs, but for now he can learn from him. 

The Browns are competitive at 4-8 this year and have been in most games they have played. Benjamin is but one piece of an offensive unit that is slowly growing together and will clearly someday be a coherent unit. 

Cleveland made a point to not only go out and find a franchise quarterback in Brandon Weeden in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. It also added a franchise running back in Trent Richardson and went to the 2012 Supplemental draft to select receiver Josh Gordon. 

Weeden has struggled, but the talent is clearly there. Richardson is already one of the NFL's best with over 800 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Gordon has emerged as the best receiver on the team with well over 600 yards and five touchdowns. 

Benjamin is the missing piece. At some point he'll become an every-down receiver with Gordon and Greg Little, giving the Browns a formidable offensive attack for Weeden to work with. Benjamin has enough speed to take the top off a defense, which will open things up for the other receivers and potentially give Richardson wider running lanes. 

There's a lot to like about the future offensively for the Browns, but Benjamin is the underrated piece that brings everything together. His ability to beat teams deep completely changes the complexion of the offensive unit. 

The Browns had a great offseason by adding personnel such as Benjamin that simply needs more experience to be a great unit. Benjamin flashed his impressive talents against the Chiefs, but it was just a small preview of what he is capable of each and every week for quite some time in Cleveland.