Cameron's promise evident, even on basketball court

Posted June 04, 2011 @ 4:12 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Should the NFL rookie class of 2011 ever hold a slam dunk contest, Browns TE Jordan Cameron would probably be your morning-line favorite.

Cameron, a fourth-round pick from USC, makes dunking look easy, as he showed in a YouTube video in which Clippers forward Blake Griffin, Cameron's friend and the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner, testifies to the former basketball player's football skills.

"I want to tell you about my main man, Jordan Cameron, the greatest tight end on the planet," said Griffin in the video, modeled after Nike's iconic "It's gotta be the shoes!" advertisement starring Spike Lee (as Mars Blackmon) and Michael Jordan.

In the video, Griffin plays the role of Lee, with Cameron's athleticism the focal point.

"J-Bone, what makes you so great?" Griffin asks.  

"It's the total package," Cameron answers at the end after a montage of dunks and before bursting out laughing.

To be the total package as an NFL tight end, you have to block, and that, not dunking, was on Cameron's mind the other day. He is a willing blocker, but inexperienced. Stretching the field as a pass receiver is his primary skill.

"I want to do it; I just need to know how," Cameron told PFW about blocking.

Sometimes, players are drafted for their collegiate production. Others are selected for what they might become. The 6-5¼, 254-pound Cameron, who caught only 16 passes for 126 yards at USC, all as a senior, fits into this second category.

Cameron, who has a 37½-inch vertical leap and has shaded 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, began his collegiate athletic career as a basketball player at Brigham Young before returning to football, a sport he played in high school. He played three seasons at USC, but focused on playing tight end only as a senior.

Cameron had no inkling whatsoever the Browns were planning to draft him. According to Cameron, Browns TE coach Steve Hagen told him the club wasn't planning to take a tight end, though he did indicate the team liked him.

As it turned out, the Browns liked him a lot.

"I tell you, we're really excited about this kid," Browns general manager Tom Heckert told reporters during the draft. "… (He) hasn't played a whole lot of tight end, or football for that matter, but he's big, he's superathletic, he's got really good hands. As you watch him through the year, I know his production was not great, but when he did play, we thought he played very well. He played well at the [East-West Shrine Game], he performed well at the (NFL Scouting) Combine."

In a brief discussion with Hagen during the draft, Cameron was told that the Browns envision him as a "move-around" tight end, someone who can be deployed various ways. The rookie said he has a "little piece" of the Browns' playbook. Already Cameron has joined his new teammates for workouts in Cleveland, and he will travel to Austin, Texas next week to take part in the third set of workouts organized by second-year QB Colt McCoy

Cameron is also working out privately with other NFL players, including Saints RB Reggie Bush, at former NFL TE Billy Miller's Elite Athletics training facility in Westlake Village, Calif.

Cameron and his fellow players are working hard, but they would like some clarity on when the work stoppage will end.

"They want to know, 'When is this going to be over?' " Cameron said.

As the lockout drags on, Cameron works to learn what he can of a playbook he doesn't possess all of and fit into a revamped Browns offense. When the lockout ends, he wants to be ready to help.

"It helps knowing where you're going to be," he said.

The dunk video was the brainstorm of Cameron and Griffin, who became friends after meeting because of James Dunleavy, son of former Clippers head coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy Sr. and Cameron's roommate at USC. Tracy Hoffman, the wife of Cameron's agent, Michael Hoffman, had the idea to model the video after that famous Nike ad.

The clip, posted in March, has received more than 225,000 views.

Did it aid in Cameron being drafted early on Day Three? It probably didn't hurt.

"I don't know if it helped or not, but I like where I'm at," he said.