With all the uncertainty surrounding the wide receiver position, the Cleveland Browns tight ends will play a greater role in the offense. The tight end, specifically Jordan Cameron, can be the X-factor to a successful season. Brian Hoyer even referred to Cameron as his safety blanket.
After recording only 26 receptions in his first two years in the league, Jordan Cameron reached the Pro Bowl ranks after a breakout 2013 campaign. The four year veteran finished with 80 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. The USC product is in prime position for a repeat performance, especially if Josh Gordon is suspended and Brian Hoyer earns the starting quarterback job.
During the first two weeks without Gordon and despite Brandon Weeden commanding the huddle, Cameron averaged ten targets per game, averaging seven catches for 100 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. Even with our star receiver on the field, the tight end didn’t experience a decrease in production. Cameron registered his best two game stretch, 16 receptions, 157 yards, four touchdowns during weeks three and four, with none other than Brian Hoyer at quarterback.
Jordan Cameron has a tremendous impact on Cleveland’s offensive production. The Pro Bowler has reliable hands and speed to create separation. His big six foot five inch frame coupled with his great leaping ability creates a huge window for quarterbacks to target. Clearly, Cameron is the number one tight end.
With that first spot occupied, Gary Barnidge is listed second on the depth chart. The 28-year-old is a phenomenal pass blocking tight end, who has reliable hands too. Barnidge definitely won’t be the first option or top threat, but the seven year veteran’s presence will be felt. Barnidge will primarily be utilized as a blocker. According to Pro Football Focus, Gary Barnidge stayed to block on 62.6% of passing plays. His 2013 efficiency is duly noted as well, only allowing five pressures in 174 pass blocking attempts. He seems to have secured the second tight end role, but nothing is guaranteed.
New comer through free agency, Jim Dray’s stock is rising. The run blocking tight end signed a three year $5.65 million contract this offseason. Despite playing in Arizona for four seasons, Dray saw most of his action last year, starting 15 games. Throughout those games, the Stanford product registered 215 yards and two touchdowns on 26 receptions. The most important aspect is that Dray didn’t drop a single pass, according to Pro Football Focus, despite being more of a blocking tight end. Last season, he blocked when on the field for two-thirds of the snaps. Currently, Jim Dray sits at third on the depth chart.
Meanwhile, last on the depth chart is Emmanuel Ogbuehi. This young man has only one year of experience, but is competing for some playing time as a backup tight end. The former Georgia State student has familiarity to his advantage. He was in Kyle Shanahan’s system with Washington in the pre-season before being cut.
Ultimately, the tight end position gained more value. Our players have all the qualifications to be successful. This season could be career years for Cameron, Barnidge, and Dray.
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