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How WR Trinity Benson went from an unknown to Lions’ GM Brad Holmes’ No. 1 target

Holmes saw a player who could improve the roster and wasn’t willing to gamble on missing out on him.

Denver Broncos v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

“Who the hell is Trinity Benson?”

That’s the question Detroit Lions' general manager Brad Holmes asked his director of pro scouting Rob Lohman when he approached Holmes about possibly adding Benson to their roster.

“When I first watched the tape, I was like, ‘Wow,’” Holmes continued. “He popped off. He had juice. He had explosiveness. His upside as a route runner gets you really excited, for a young guy. And then the more work you do from an intangibles standpoint—he’s a tough kid that’s a hard worker. He’s smart, does things the right way. That’s when I called George (Paton, GM of the Denver Broncos) to see if we could get something worked out.”

Holmes would go on to elaborate that there were quite a few more steps between tape evaluation and finalizing a trade, and once again credited Lohman for how valuable he was during the process.

Once the Lions’ staff felt like they had a solid evaluation of what Benson would bring to the table, the Lions started comparing him both to other team’s receivers who they believed could be available and to their own group of pass catchers.

As these wide receiver evaluations continued throughout the preseason, Benson continued to ball out during games. To the Lions’ front office, it was clear Benson was their best option.

“When we started stacking them, he kept rising at No. 1,” Holmes said.

Then that debate became, if Benson was waived by Denver, was Holmes willing to risk losing him to a team with a higher waiver priority, or was he willing to pay a price and make a trade to secure the guy he valued greatly?

“Yeah, we just felt that confident about him,” Holmes said. “It was, ‘Hey, let’s just get him.’ He’s got a bright future, he’s got a lot of upside, and again, as we kept stacking it—again, it’s a collaborative effort, so it’s not just me and Rob Lohman thought that he was the best. No, it’s me and the rest of the personnel department. It was (WR coach Antwaan) Randle-El saying, ‘Yes, he’s the top guy.’ It’s Dan (Campbell, Lions coach) looking at him and saying, ‘Oh yeah, I really love this Benson guy.’ It’s collaborative, it’s total buy-in to make you feel really, really good about it and say, hey look, maybe we can just sit back and wait, put in a claim and see if you get lucky, but no, we felt confident enough to say, look, let’s just go ahead and see if we can make something happen and go get him.”

So, Holmes and Paton struck a deal with the Lions sending a fifth and seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft to the Broncos, and received Benson and a 2023 sixth-round pick in return.

In the end, Holmes saw a player he believed was “truly is the best fit for us” and went out and got him.