After covering the wide receivers, the next part of our training camp preview series on the Cleveland Browns shifts to the tight end position, which is split into two parts. In Part 1, we look at Jordan Cameron, Kellen Davis, and Gary Barnidge.
1. JORDAN CAMERON - STARTING TIGHT END
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 245
Age: 24 | Experience: 3 years
Note: Being handed a starting opportunity...former basketball player at USC...can he prevent the injury bug?
I really wanted the Browns to sign Jared Cook in free agency, but it never came to fruition. The Browns let Benjamin Watson sign with another team and proceeded to sign two backup tight ends, which means that Jordan Cameron is being handed a golden opportunity in the NFL.
As a former fourth-round pick with only 26 receptions over two seasons of work, Cameron will be thrust into the starting lineup with coaches that a tight end would dream for -- Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner.
It's hard to define the expectations for a player who has flashed potential, but as far as we know, is really still just a former basketball player who is trying to prove he can be an every down tight end. It is an experiment of sorts, and one that the Browns hope pays off. Tight ends have been able to work magic in Chudzinski's offenses: just look at Greg Olsen in Carolina last year. Can Cameron be "the next big thing?" It's all good-and-fun to believe that Cameron is going to follow a trend and become a dominant force in this league, but there just isn't enough to go on yet for us to believe that, thanks to Pat Shurmur neglecting him too much.
We know Cameron is athletic and has made some acrobatic catches, but what about his blocking ability? Or his route-running ability? Or his durability -- he's had a couple of injuries already. That's why I have Cameron's job security low. While I firmly believe he'll be the starting tight end to begin the year, if he doesn't pan out, I can see a mid-season switch to Gary Barnidge.
Job Security: B-
Final Roster Odds: 99%
2. KELLEN DAVIS - BLOCKING TIGHT END
Height: 6-7 | Weight: 265
Age: 27 | Experience: 6 years
College: Michigan State
Note: Dropped 8 passes in 2012 with the Bears...there is no secret that he is known as a blocking tight end.
Make no mistake about it: Kellen Davis was not signed to be a receiver. His strong suit is blocking, and that is exactly what he'll be used for. With the Browns losing Benjamin Watson and Alex Smith to free agency, Davis fulfills the blocking void on the team, considering Jordan Cameron isn't exactly known for that type of role.
To keep defenses honest, you still need to throw the ball to your blocking tight end. The Bears threw the ball 44 times to Davis last season, and he caught 17 passes but has 8 dropped passes. The only player with a worst catch-drop ratio in the NFL might be Owen Marecic. At the end of the day, it's something you just have to live with. I expect Davis to see quite a bit of action in two-tight-end sets or even at the fullback position this season.
Final Roster Odds: 90%
3. GARY BARNIDGE - BACKUP TIGHT END
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 250
Age: 27 | Experience: 6 years
Note: Was a third-string tight end with Rob Chudzinski in Carolina...potential to be an all-around tight end.
Gary Barnidge is one of those guys who I really want to pay attention to come training camp, because I have a sneaking suspicion that he could eventually become the Browns' starting tight end.
A former fifth-round draft pick by the Panthers, Barnidge is entering his sixth season in the NFL, but really hasn't received much playing time. He was known for having underrated catching ability, athleticism, and the ability to block pretty well.
Barnidge may have more all-around tight end potential than Cameron, but is currently stuck in a situation where he may not be as good of an athlete as Cameron or as good of a blocker as Davis. Although Barnidge was the third-string tight end in Carolina last year, he played in Rob Chudzinski's offense, which certainly gives him a leg up on the other tight ends in terms of knowing the system that's going to be installed in Cleveland. Reports were that Barnidge was offered a contract to return to Carolina, but chose Cleveland because he was told he'd receive more opportunities to play here.
We could always see a situation where the Browns play both Cameron and Barnidge as tight ends, and only put Davis in for obvious run situations (i.e. goal line packages, or as a fullback). This unit can play out in a lot of different ways.
Final Roster Odds: 100%
In Part 2 of our tight ends preview on Sunday, we will take a look at Dan Gronkowski and Travis Tannahill. Our poll today asks if you think there is a chance that Gary Barnidge could be the starting tight end by the end of the season.