Why Cameron is on the list
Jordan Cameron's fledgling NFL career took a sunny turn when the Cleveland Browns hired coach Rob Chudzinski. The former Panthers offensive coordinator is well known for leaning hard on his tight ends in the passing game, and Cameron has been cast for a leading role in 2013.
Carolina's Greg Olsen enjoyed a career year under Chud last season, and Browns fans haven't forgotten the switch he flipped with Kellen Winslow as Cleveland's offensive coordinator back in 2007. Then there's Norv Turner, who will call plays for the Browns and harbors a deep fascination with field-stretching tight ends. It's crazy talk to tab Cameron as the next Antonio Gates, but Chud sees promise: "Jordan can run, he's a good athlete, has good hands," he told WKRK-FM, "so from a receiver standpoint, I think there's a lot to work with."
Cameron was kept in bubble wrap during Pat Shurmur's tenure, but with Ben Watson out of the picture, The Plain Dealer reported Jordan saw "plenty of deep balls" during offseason team activities. Targeted just 40 times last season, Cameron's sneaky elusiveness on this 18-yard reception against the Buffalo Bills is something we'll see more of in Turner's aggressive vertical passing attack.
"They're making an opening for the tight end," Cameron told the Browns' official site. "They're running deep routes, and it makes it easier for the tight ends to work the middle a little bit, and we stretch the field as well."
There isn't a ton of film on Cameron, but his ability to slip through coverage stands out, as exampled by this 23-yard grab against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6. He stumbles early on his route but recovers to burn Chris Crocker on the second effort. Don't be surprised to see Cameron split out wide and used all over the formation come September.
Cameron lacks a track record. The former basketball player had a grand total of 16 receptions at USC, and he's accounted for just 26 during his two years in Cleveland. To be fair, the Browns are gambling here. Cameron's still developing as a blocker, and durability is a slight concern. ESPNCleveland noted he was sidelined by two muscle pulls during spring practice. Not the end of the world, but it came in noncontact work. Can Cameron play through the rigors of a 16-game campaign?
"Uh, yeah, this is Cameron Jordan, but the Saints already picked me," the newly minted New Orleans defensive end told the Browns, according to SI's Peter King. "I think you mean Jordan Cameron. You're looking for Jordan Cameron."
A sad beginning, but three seasons later, Jordan Cameron is the Browns' only viable pass-catching tight end. Kellen Davis was a disaster as a receiver with the Chicago Bears, and Gary Barnidge is a project. In a perfect world, Cameron will double his 20-catch season from a year ago. Browns fans, of course, have a right to remain leery.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.