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Is Jordan Cameron a possible off-season steal?

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The Dolphins signed tightend Jordan Cameron this off-season coming off a season that saw him miss 5 games due to concussion. Is it possible that the Dolphins found a steal in free agency by signing what some considered damaged goods?

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Did the Miami Dolphins get a steal in free agency when they signed Jordan Cameron? Cameron would have normally been a very hot commodity in free agency if not for him suffering his 3rd concussion in only two seasons, forcing him to miss 5 games last season. There was a time in the NFL where three concussion were thought of as nothing and there are reports of players that played with dozens but no doubt paid a heavy price for it later in life.

With the added focus on concussion's by the NFL and the added pressure of multiple lawsuits many teams have shyed away from players with "confirmed" multiple concussion's. It is probably fair to speculate that was Cameron not so talented and a player with so much upside he might very well still be on the street looking for a job and most certainly would not have received a 2 year deal for 15 million dollars.

For each player it has become their own decision to play following concussion's. While we have seen very young players retiring recently Jordan Cameron does not believe that his concussion's are anything to worry about long term even stating last season "I don't think it's a concern, I wouldn't play if it was.". This is a common stance among players and in Cameron's case we can only hope that he is correct. It's also important to remember that the concussion that Jordan suffered last season was on a nasty, blind and dirty hit that saw his head snap forward and cost the offender a full game's check. It was the sort of hit that would have ended the season for many a player.

Cameron has a somewhat similar story to some other top NFL tightend's that you may have heard of. He began college at BYU playing only basketball. He later transferred to USC where he played his first two seasons as a wide receiver being used very sparingly and catching no passes. He converted to tightend for his senior year at USC catching 16 balls for 126 yards and a touchdown.

Jordan made his name pre-draft at the East-West Shrine Game where he made a big impression on the coaching staffs during the week of workouts and practices. He then backed that up by turning in a series of impressive workouts at the NFL combine where he was top three in every drill that he participated in and 5th in bench press reps. Jordan's combine measurable's match up very favorably with another NFL TE that began college as a basketball player.

Height Weight Arm length Hand size 40-yd dash 3-cone Vertical Broad
Jordan Cameron 6 ft 5 in 254 lb 33½ in 9¾ in 4.53 s 6.82 s 37.5 in 9 ft 11 in
Jimmy Graham 6 ft 6¼ in 260 lb 35 in 10⅝ in 4.56 s 6.90 s 38½ in 10 ft 0 in

Cameron was brought along slowly when he first joined the browns due to his inexperience at the position. Despite being very raw at playing tightend, then Browns team president Mike Holmgren singled out Cameron as the one player in the off-season that was set for a significant leap. In his first full NFL season Jordan only started in two games catching 6 balls for 33 yards. His sophomore year saw improvement with him starting 6 games catching 20 balls for 226 yards and a touchdown.

It was during Cameron's third year in the NFL that saw him really take a huge leap. Cameron seemed to flourish under the offense run by Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski. That season saw Jordan have 80 receptions for 917 yards and 7 touchdowns. Jordan also earned his very first trip to the NFL Pro Bowl for the 2013 season.

2014 was a different year for the Browns and Cameron. Josh Gordon got himself suspended following a DWI arrest making Jordan the focus of most defenses. Cameron saw his targets fall from 118 in 2013 to 48 in 2014 as a result. Cameron also suffered a shoulder injury that slowed him down and of course the concussion that saw him miss 5 games in a row. His production fell to 24 catches for 424 yards and two touchdowns.

So why the confidence in Cameron? Well none of us know for sure how any player will work out until we see them on the field. Will Jordan mesh with our offensive scheme as we all believe? Will he mesh with Ryan Tannehill? My guess is a big yes on both but why?

Well for starters Jordan has four seasons at the NFL level and has amassed 130 receptions for 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns. While those numbers are modest for a starting tightend you must remember how slow he started out at this level due to being such a raw player, much like we saw from Jimmy Graham. Then you must add in the injuries that we all now hope were more a case of bad luck than a trend. Beyond all that you must remember that in only 4 seasons Cameron has had to suffer through nine different quarterbacks, four different offensive coordinators, three different tightend coaches and three different head coaches.

Despite all that Cameron has endured he has shown the knack for big and spectacular plays in his four years in what has sometimes been limited playing time. Despite only playing in 11 games last season Jordan led all tightends with four catches of 40 yards or more. He had catches of 42, 47, 51 and 81 yards with the last two going for touchdowns. That total doubled the next closest tightend in 40 plus yard plays with both, Delanie Walker and Coby Fleener, playing in a full schedule of games.

ESPN reported that since the 2001 season only two tightends, Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis have had more plays of over 40 yards in a season and they both had 5. Also for perspective Antonio Gates has 7 career receptions of over 40 yards but never more than one per season. Rob Gronkowski, widely considered the best tightend in the game has six total receptions of 40 yards or more with a high of 3 in a season not to mention possibly the best quarterback of this era, Tom Brady, throwing to him.

Jordan Cameron has shown the ability to play with sub par quarterbacks, a variety of them at that, and still find a way to excel. He has shown that he has the size and ability to go up and get the ball and then if need be run away from safeties. He has great hands and has the ability to get down field and has then shown the ability to make himself open and even adjust to the ball in the air. He has shown the ability to read the defense and adjust his route accordingly, thus making himself available for the quarterback.

He has the reputation as being a hard worker, dedicated, professional and accountable. He doesn't cause problems or get in to trouble and on top of all that he has the physical makeup of the prototype NFL tightend. Do I still worry that he has had three concussion's? Sure, as I am sure he does but do I think he might be one of the steals of the NFL off-season? Only time will tell but with a little luck Jordan Cameron might be the best tightend this team has had in a long, long time!