You'd be hard pressed to find a third-year player with more hype, and less pass performance to back it up, than Jordan Cameron. This summer Cameron has been touted as everything from a surefire TE1 to the best receiving option on the Browns squad. That's quite a stretch for a guy with 26 career catches and 1 lonely touchdown. How does this happen? It's all about potential. Cameron is a 6' 5" 254 lb. former basketball player and that's enough to get a lot of people excited. He has the frame and the athleticism to be a star at the position.
Of course, we've seen a lot of guys with this potential fail recently, including one in Cleveland named Evan Moore. Moore (also 6'5") made a highlight reel's worth of plays for the Browns in training camp in 2011, just before his third season. Moore's numbers entering year three looked pretty similar, but his third year breakout was nothing to write home about. He finished the year as the 28th best tight end with 34 grabs for 324 yards and 4 TDs. While that could happen to Cameron, there are reasons to believe that he may have a bigger impact this year.
There may not be a more tight-end friendly coaching staff in the league than the one in Cleveland. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner loves to use his tight end. Over the years he's saw his quarterbacks feed the ball to Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Randy McMichael, and Stephen Alexander. When Turner's offenses have been at their best they've had a big athletic tight end making plays over the middle.
Turner may love to use the tight end, but new head coach Rob Chudzinski was a tight end, staring at that position for three years at the University of Miami in the late 80s. Chudzinski got his start as a tight ends coach at Miami, and developed three All-American (and future NFL) tight ends while he was there. His first two jobs in the NFL were as a tight ends coach. He spent the last two years as the offensive coordinator in Carolina where tight end Greg Olsen was the second most targeted receiver. So Cameron has the size and athleticism, and he has the right coaching staff, what could stop him from living up to the lofty expectations?
Cameron has a history of nagging injuries and questions about his blocking ability. Cameron has struggled to stay on the field both at practice and in games. He pulled a hamstring at mini-camp in June, but so far has looked healthy at training camp. While there aren't a lot of other options for the club as a pass catching tight end, an extended injury could really hurt Cameron's chances of breaking out.
Just because the Browns don't have great pass-catching options at tight end doesn't mean they don't have other options. Former Bear Kellen Davis is a much better blocker than Cameron and Chudzinski brought former Panther Gary Barnidge with him from Carolina for a reason. Neither of these players are good enough to displace Cameron as a starter, but they could cut into his playing time if he struggles as a blocker.
Even if Cameron is able to stay healthy and stay on the field, he still has to count on Brandon Weeden getting him the ball. Weeden is the likely starter for the Browns, but it says something that we've heard so much positive spin about journeyman Jason Campbell this summer. Weeden completed just 57% of his passes as a rookie and threw more interceptions than touchdowns. While it's true that he should show improvement in his second year, he's also going to turn 30 this October. What this means is he doesn't have the time that most sophomore quarterbacks do to show improvement. Instability and ineffectiveness at the quarterback position could definitely have a negative impact of Cameron's potential.
One promising sign is that Browns tight ends caught 82 passes from Weeden last season. If that trend continues, Cameron's athleticism would give him a chance to put up some really nice numbers, especially when you consider that he's by far the best receiver in the Browns tight end corps. Will those numbers be enough to justify the hype this summer?
- Cameron has the size and athleticism that coaches dream about at the tight end position.
- Cameron has a coaching staff that will do everything they can to get the tight ends involved.
- Cameron has a quarterback that targeted his tight ends heavily in 2012.
- Cameron has yet to prove anything in his first two seasons in the league.
- There is no guarantee that the Browns will have a stable, productive quarterback.
- Cameron has a history of small, nagging injuries.
|REC||REC YDS||REC TD|
|Heath Cummings Projections||55||605||5|
|David Dodds Projections||59||655||5|
Does Cameron have the ability to put up TE1 numbers in 2013? Absolutely. Of course, so do about 17 other tight ends. If you aren't going to land one of the top 5-6 tight ends, there's really a negligible difference between the next 10-12. Thankfully, Cameron's ADP makes him a good value compared to several tight ends that should produce similar results. He's a good value as the 17th tight end off the board either as your TE2 or part of a tight end by committee approach. His upside means he's worth more than most of the tight ends in that range, just make you have a good fallback plan.
John Paulsen at 4for4.com wrote:
Cameron has all the skills to be a very good pass-catching tight end, and he made plays in limited opportunities in 2012. He only played 32% of his team's snaps, and that number should rise above the 80% mark with Watson gone (with a similar jump in targets).
Read more here.
Andrea Hangst at PFF wrote:
The Browns also have an athletic, deep threat receiving tight end—third-year player Jordan Cameron, whom they selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. A former basketball player, Cameron needed time to learn the speed and intricacies of the NFL and as such, he spent his first two years behind Benjamin Watson and Evan Moore on the depth chart. Now that Watson and Moore are gone, it appears that Cameron is being primed to be another receiving weapon for quarterback Brandon Weeden on a full-time basis.
Read more here.
Doug Orth at FFToday wrote:
Injuries are about the only thing that should keep Cameron from exploding onto the scene in 2013. Durability has not been an issue – for the most part – with Cameron. His skill set fits the new regime’s plan to throw the ball down the field, so the buzz surrounding his breakout season is legitimate.
Read more here.
More from Heath Cummings:
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