Is TE Jordan Cameron the Key to the Cleveland Browns’ Success?


The Cleveland Browns have a very high profile team president in Mike Holmgren. His handle is “The Big Show,” though he actually isn’t the most important of the Browns’ decision makers.

His job is to basically make sure GM Tom Heckert isn’t a certified wacko. If Heckert were to stroll into his scouting meetings tomorrow wearing a denim cap and sneakers, and started ripping off “FU” emails to fans and picking fights with his coworkers, Holmgren would be there to protect us.

Has anyone wondered why Phil Savage hasn’t gotten another job in the NFL after all this time? It’s because everyone knows he’s a certified wacko. Browns owner Randy Lerner doesn’t know anything about running an NFL team. By the time everyone realized Phil Savage was driving the Browns off a cliff in a burning car, it was too late and the damage had been done. Holmgren is here to make sure we never get that far again.

Tom Heckert is here to actually build the team, so his job is technically the most important. He looks that part, but the jury isn’t necessarily out on him yet. We’ll need more than two years to know for sure, and it would sure help if he started piling up wins late in the draft.

Colt McCoy might not be much in the NFL, but quarterback is a volatile position. These things happen – he was a good gamble at least. How about offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao? Should he mold himself into a good player in the next year or two, that’s a big win for Heckert in the third round.

Defensive end Jabaal Sheard was a high second-round pick, so he’s expected to be good, but he looks like he might become more like a first-round caliber guy. That’s another win.

Safety T.J. Ward? Needs to pick up the pace, doesn’t he? Larry Asante? Not so much.

How about Jordan Cameron?

Benjamin Watson was placed on season-ending injured reserve before the weekend. He says he’ll be back next year, but that’s something someone who knows they’re about to be cut would say. The Browns made a measured investment in younger tight end Evan Moore and spent a fourth round pick on a developmental tight end. A developmental tight end who, having played basketball in college, would be a big risk/big reward type of guy.

This is Tom Heckert’s chance. He admitted an overall need for playmakers – Browns fans have been screaming that much from the mountain top all season. Maybe we should be rooting for Cameron to become a player like that.

If he’s right, then Heckert was in on a growing trend in the NFL. The athletic hybrid TE model is starting to appear, like the hybrid power forward of the NBA, impacting a now faster game. And teams are spotting them by looking for converted basketball players, like Cameron.

We spend so much time imagining what LeBron James would look like as a football player we forget to consider we’re seeing it right now in New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.

Graham played four year of college hoops at the University of Miami and will make the Pro Bowl this year. The New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski was a basketball standout in high school, and now he’s a household name after breaking the NFL record for single-season touchdowns by a tight end. San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is the original developmental gem, as he was an undrafted free agent basketball player from Kent State who made San Diego’s offense different and unstoppable just a few years ago.

Heckert wants one too, and he’s got a script to follow.

The offense that the New Orleans Saints run with the shorter, sharper Drew Brees is probably the ultimate generation of the offense the Browns would build. It’s predicated on Brees making fast decisions and using his accuracy to generate explosion. The Browns don’t have the players to do it yet, but Jordan Cameron is auditioning for the role of Jimmy Graham.

Graham is 260 lbs and stands 6’6”. He’s strong and tall and fast. The Saints took him as the 95th overall player in the 2010 draft and used him sparingly as a rookie as they ran out the string on Jeremy Shockey’s contract. Benjamin Watson, for the record, is exactly four months younger than Shockey.

Jordan Cameron is about Graham’s size at 6’5” and 245 lbs. He was taken 104th overall in the 2011 draft, just nine picks after Graham was selected. He may not be Graham’s special blend of speed and size (and Graham does have that one-of-a-kind look), but Cameron would still give the Browns a different dimension on offense if he turns himself into a good player.

I know they think highly of him – it’s why they haven’t played him much until now. In the Browns’ haste to not be that good, their players are getting hurt out there. Our tiny heroes Colt McCoy and Owen Marecic are getting killed. You’re not going to develop a player you really care about by playing him on teams like this.

But the void left in Ben Waton’s absence could change that. This could be Jordan Cameron’s opportunity to start giving Tom Heckert’s drafts some real juice moving forward.

As another Browns season winds down in frustration and defeat, let’s look for Jordan Cameron these last few games and see if there is a future there.

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