Sleeper Alert: Jordan Cameron

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By John Paulsen (Senior Editor) on June 4, 2013

John was named FantasyPros Most Accurate Expert of 2010, was runner-up in 2011 and finished 4th in 2012 for in-season rankings accuracy. He also won the Fantasy Sports Trade Association award in 2011 for the most accurate preseason rankings. Follow John on Twitter: @4for4_John.

Tight end Jordan Cameron has been on the sleeper radar ever since the Browns hired Rob Chudzinski as head coach and Norv Turner as offensive coordinator, and let both Benjamin Watson and Alex Smith walk in free agency. The Browns did sign Kellen Davis, but he's more of a blocker than he is a receiver.

Both Chudzinski and Turner are known to feature the TE position in their respective offenses. Here's a look at all the head coach (HC) and offensive coordinator (OC) stops each coach has made since 2002 along with the stats for their top TE each year.

 

TEs Under Rob Chudzinski & Norv Turner

Coach Year Team Position Top TE G Tgts Rec Yds TDs
Chudzinski 2004 CLE OC Aaron Shea 15 45 26 252 4
Chudzinski 2007 CLE OC Kellen Winslow 16 148 82 1106 5
Chudzinski 2008 CLE OC Kellen Winslow 10 82 43 428 3
Chudzinski 2011 CAR OC Greg Olsen 16 89 45 540 5
Chudzinski 2012 CAR OC Greg Olsen 16 104 69 843 5
Turner 2002 MIA OC Randy McMichael 16 73 39 485 4
Turner 2003 MIA OC Randy McMichael 16 78 49 598 2
Turner 2004 OAK HC Doug Jolley 16 47 27 313 2
Turner 2005 OAK HC Courtney Anderson 14 50 24 303 3
Turner 2006 SF OC Vernon Davis 10 42 20 265 3
Turner 2007 SD HC Antonio Gates 16 117 75 984 9
Turner 2008 SD HC Antonio Gates 16 92 60 704 8
Turner 2009 SD HC Antonio Gates 16 114 79 1157 8
Turner 2010 SD HC Antonio Gates 10 65 50 782 10
Turner 2011 SD HC Antonio Gates 13 88 64 778 7
Turner 2012 SD HC Antonio Gates 15 80 49 538 7
        Total 14.4 82.1 50.1 630 5.3
        Prorated (16 games)   91.0 55.5 698 5.9

 

Obviously having Antonio Gates for six seasons helps those average numbers, but there are a few clunkers in there as well (like Aaron Shea, Doug Jolley and Courtney Anderson). On average, tight ends playing for Chudzinski and/or Turner have averaged 91 targets per 16 games. For reference, that's how many targets Dennis Pitta saw in 2012 (10th in the league).

So what can we expect from Cameron if he sees 90+ targets?

Well, I'm the first to admit I don't spend a lot of time watching the Browns, so I went back and watched all of his targets (42) from his sophomore season and came away impressed.

My biggest concern looking at his numbers was his 48% catch rate. That's next to last in the league among tight ends with at least 2.0 targets per game. (Oddly enough, Kellen Davis was last with 43%.) But watching the targets, I counted at least five or six batted balls along with several throwaways or otherwise uncatchable balls. Pro Football Focus shows Cameron with 31 targets, 22 of which were catchable. He finished with 20 catches for 226 yards and a TD.

He has good hands and ball skills.

Here's a look at his combine numbers and how they compare to other players at his position.

 

Cameron was in the 91st percentile or higher in the 40-yard dash (4.53), the 20-yard shuttle (4.03) and the vertical jump (37 1/2").

He's athletic. And that shows up on film. Cameron regularly outruns linebackers, but still has the bulk to break tackles in the secondary.

Here's a week by week summary of what I saw watching virtually all his targets:

 

Week 3 vs. Buffalo

Split out wide, Cameron picked up 12 yards on a little dig route. Later in the same quarter, he caught a short post route for 17 yards. The ball was a little behind him but he still made the snag and fell to the ground.

Week 4 vs. Baltimore

He was covered well by the Ravens. Dropped a short pass in the 2nd quarter. In the 3rd quarter, he engaged Ed Reed and shed him before catching a slant for 15 yards.

Week 5 vs. NY Giants

Cameron gained 21 yards on a middle dig route, making two defenders miss with nice moves after making the catch.

Week 6 vs. Cincinnati

He turned a short drag route into a 15-yard gain, showing good speed to get up the sideline.

In the fourth quarter on a 3rd-and-1, Cameron was tripped as he started his route, got up and got back into his route, making a 23-yard snag across the middle. It was a very athletic play, and he didn't get rattled by the trip.

Week 7 vs. Indianapolis

He was only targeted twice in this game, but made a nice grab and found the sticks for a first down on a short drag route.

Week 8 vs. San Diego

On a 2nd-and-10 in the 2nd quarter, Weeden executed a play action and had to roll out to extend the play. Cameron stuck with the route, coming back a bit, and outran LB D.J. Smith to make the catch.

Week 9 vs. Baltimore

He was flagged for illegal formation. He was targeted deep, but it was a terribly thrown ball. In the 3rd quarter he was late to find the ball on a Weeden pass that was picked off by Cary Williams. It wasn't clear if the pick was Weeden's fault or Cameron's. He drew pass interference after a stop route, working his way back to the sideline.

Week 11 vs. Dallas

Cameron was targeted twice in the endzone, and even made a nice snag on the second pass, but Weeden threw the ball two yards out of bounds.

Week 12 vs. Pittsburgh

He started in the slot, crossed with a wideout and made a solid grab in the endzone near the sideline. He made a diving 4-yard grab, but it was called back due to a holding penalty. Made another nice grab in the flat to gain 7 yards later in the game.

Week 13 vs. Oakland

Had three uncatchable targets, but also made a falling 7-yard grab in the flat. He made a nice catch and broke a tackle along the sideline to turn a short pass into a 23-yard gain.

Week 14 vs. Chiefs

Caught a short pass over the middle and ran over SS Eric Berry to gain 10 yards.

Week 15 v. Redskins

He was targeted twice in the flat, making two catches for six yards before a nice 28-yard gain on a corner route that he ran from the slot after going in motion.

Note: Cameron missed the final two games due to a concussion.

 

BOTTOM LINE

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).

I'm excited about his prospects under Chudzinski and Turner, both in terms of development and usage. My only concern at this point is Brandon Weeden's play at QB. There were far too many batted balls and uncatchable passes in 2012. If he improves in this area and the team uses Cameron to stretch the seams (as we've already seen in OTAs), he should make a big leap this year. I think he has an outside chance of cracking the top 12, but assuming he stays healthy, he should have no problem finishing as a very solid fantasy TE2.

His ADP has been bouncing around in the 13th round for the last month so he should be available in the 12th-13th rounds on draft day since he's already received his bump from the Chudzinski/Turner hires. We currently have him ranked as our #15 TE ahead of bigger names like Jared Cook, Jermaine Gresham and Martellus Bennett. I believe a breakout season is likely.

Filed Under: 2013, Preseason