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Game Rewind Notebook: Jordan Cameron is a star

While Josh Gordon is left dangling in suspension limbo, general manager Ray Farmer has emphasized that the Cleveland Browns don't need a "mega-guy" in his receiving corps.

What Farmer left unsaid is that he already has a legitimate star at tight end.

When I ranked Jordan Cameron as the NFL's fourth-best tight end last week, it understandably raised a few eyebrows on the Around The League Podcast.

Cameron isn't exactly a household name, despite ranking second only to Jimmy Graham in receiving yards and third in receptions among tight ends in 2013.

Through the magic of Game Rewind, I re-watched all of Cameron's 118 targets last season to compile the highlight package directly above. Like a young Tony Gonzalez, Cameron is a hyper-athletic fellow former college hoopster who specializes in acrobatic contested catches across the middle, down the sideline and in the end zone.

The difference between Cameron and Broncos tight end Julius Thomas -- yet another former college basketball player emerging as a rising football star -- is that the latter's athleticism shows up after the catch. Whereas Cameron uses his bigger body to shield and outleap defenders in traffic, Thomas is often left with more room to roam thanks to Denver's pick-your-poison offense.

Which brings us to yet another converted basketball forward. Cameron is 90 percent of Graham -- without benefit of Drew Brees.

With the underwhelming duo of Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer running the show, Cameron was on pace for 98 receptions, 1,192 yards and 12 touchdowns as the Browns' best player halfway through last season. For comparison's sake, Graham finished the year with 86 receptions for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns.

It's no coincidence that Cameron's numbers plummeted once signal-caller Jason Campbell took the reins in the second half of the season.

It was obvious on Game Rewind that Campbell ignored receivers who weren't already open in favor of dumpoffs, checkdowns and the occasional bomb to Gordon. It's not in Campbell's overly cautious nature to throw his receivers open or allow his receivers to make contested catches in tight spaces. He doesn't pull the trigger.

As is the case with Graham, those contested passes are Cameron's bread and butter. He is a physical mismatch at the point of the catch.

Although Cameron has lost two of the NFL's tight-end friendliest minds in Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski, his prospects are bright going forward. New coordinator Kyle Shanahan's offense has allowed Jordan Reed, Fred Davis and Owen Daniels to flourish in the past half-decade.

Whether it's Hoyer or Johnny Manziel under center in Week 1, Cameron will be the go-to target in the aerial attack. If he can stay out of the trainer's room -- an issue that delayed his development in 2011 and 2012 -- Cameron should have little problem clearing the 1,000-yard mark in 2014.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" debates Jay Cutler's ceiling and looks back at the NFL in the '90s.

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