The Buffalo Bills offense has struggled mightily over the past couple of seasons, particularly in the passing game. The team invested heavily at the wide receiver position, but Buffalo, in its storied history, has never had a real big, athletic weapon at the tight end spot that can threaten defenses down the seam. Scott Chandler has been reliable over the past three seasons, catching 143 passes for 1,723 yards and 11 touchdowns, but it’s time for the Bills to evolve. Since 2000, there have been 104 instances of a tight end catching at least 60 passes for 650 yards in a single season. Not one occurred with the Buffalo Bills.
With the 2015 NFL Free Agency period around the corner, the Bills are in a prime positon to add an explosive playmaker with size and speed that can make the offense better. To me, that player could be Jordan Cameron of the Cleveland Browns. The 26-year old tight end possesses a big, well-built frame at 6’4” 250 pounds and he’s probably the best athlete at the position in the league. During the 2011 NFL Combine, Cameron finished in the top 3 in every drill (4.53 40-yard dash, 37.5”vertical leap, 23 bench press reps), which resulted in him being selected in the fourth-round despite catching just 16 passes in his collegiate career.
After playing sparingly in his first two seasons due to a hamstring injury and a concussion, Cameron broke out in 2013, catching 80 passes on 117 targets for 917 yards (11.4 yards-per-reception) and seven touchdowns in 15 games. In 2014, Cameron saw action in just 10 games due to concussions and a collarbone injury, but managed to catch 24 passes on 48 targets for 424 yards (17.7 yards-per-reception) and two touchdowns.
If Cameron checks out medically, he could present the best value of any offensive free agent that’s set to hit the market. He’s a big-play threat that can run a variety of routes, but he’s not a liability when asked to block. Cameron’s athleticism is put on display in the following play against the Vikings. Lined up in the slot to the left of the formation, Cameron makes a beautiful catch for a touchdown on a corner route. He burns the cornerback off the snap, before cutting outside in front of the Cover 2 safety, tracking the ball and securing an over-the-shoulder catch.
Cameron is a fantastic blocker as well, as you can see in the next clip. Lined up attached to the offensive line, he drops into pass protection against Jared Allen, a future Hall of Fame defensive end. He’s able to effectively kick-slide and get his hands inside of Allen, essentially redirecting and negating the pass rush.
He’s also solid as a run blocker, holding his own against Everson Griffen here:
Under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the Bills need versatility from their tight ends. They’ll need to line up along the offensive line as a blocker, in the slot as a receiver, in the backfield as an H-Back or the “F” fullback role. Cameron has proven capable of fulfilling all of these roles during his time with the Cleveland Browns.
On the John Murphy Show, General Manager Doug Whaley explained that not having a franchise quarterback with a large contract allows the Bills to spend money elsewhere. It’s obvious that Whaley has every intention of surrounding EJ Manuel, or whichever passer is under center in 2015, with adequate weapons to succeed. While his injury history is definitely something that needs to be taken into account, Jordan Cameron could be just the player the Bills’ offense needs to make a significant leap.