2013 was the same old, same old for the Browns, a team defined by inefficiencies at some key skill positions, combined with sometimes uninspired play, led to a 4-12 season.
Failing to get caught up the web of mediocrity was the tight end position where a player momentarily emerged as a budding star. Third year TE Jordan Cameron showed some signs of being able to become a legitimate threat in the passing game for years to come. At only, 25, Cameron had easily the best season of his career, on the way to his first ever-Pro Bowl appearance.
Cameron started of last season on an absolute tear. In his first four games of the 2013 campaign, he came out of nowhere, racking up 360 yards and five touchdowns. It seemed like he would join wide receiver Josh Gordon as a breakout receiver who could possibly lead the league statistically at his position.
Then he began to fall off. After recording at least 90 yards in three of his first four games, he managed to reach that yardage plateau only once the rest of the season. He also was only able to score two more touchdowns in the last 11 games that he played.
He also suffered a concussion injury near the end of the season that caused him to miss a game against the New York Jets near the end of the year.
In total, Cameron finished 917 yards and seven touchdowns, but it is a very frontloaded stat line, as the majority of his numbers came at the beginning of the season.
On top of struggling in the passing game down the stretch, Cameron has also shown an inability to develop into a quality blocker. He often focuses more on catching passes, causing him to get pushed around when he’s called upon to block in the both the run and pass game. In a rough and tough division such as the AFC North, every part of the offensive line is key, including the tight end. One person with an inability to block well will cause the running game to struggle (such as only 1,383 total team rushing yards).
Therefore, it’s evident that the team needs to go after either a veteran or rookie tight end to help Cameron in the blocking game. It would also be extremely helpful to have another capable player behind Cameron in case he suffers another injury, because a rookie quarterback (Cross my fingers) is going to need as much receiving help as possible.
There are two routes the team could go. The first option is for the Browns go after a cheap tight end in free agency such as Bear Pascoe, who is known for his ability to block. The second option is to go after a tight end in the draft such as Troy Niklas of Notre Dame, who loves to block, and could be available in the third round after the Brownies have already addressed their more important needs.
Regardless of which way the team goes, it’s evident that Cameron can’t carry the tight end load all on his own back. I wouldn’t trust him with that responsibility until he has proven that he’s capable of performing consistently over an entire season, or that he can transform into a reliable blocker.