Saturday, June 17, 2017

[OC] Cameron Meredith and his unique skillset


Cameron Meredith

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Name Cameron Meredith
Team Chicago Bears
Position/Number WR, #81
Height/Weight 6'3," 207 LBs.
College Illinois State
Year Team Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving TD
2015 Chicago Bears 11 120 0
2016 Chicago Bears 66 888 4
Career 77 1,008 4

Cameron Meredith has made a name for himself on the Chicago Bears, and despite playing with a carousel of QBs this past season, he still showed his ability, posting impressive statistics and making nice plays across the board. However, Meredith's journey to the NFL is an interesting one, and it will be explained before we get into the analysis of Meredith’s play.

Meredith played QB at St. Joseph High School in Westchester, IL, and was a three-year letterman in the sport. During his senior year, he passed for 2000 yards and 12 TDs, while rushing for >400 yards and 7 TDs. He also played defense, and recorded 7 INTs during his final year. Meredith also played basketball for St. Joseph’s, and lettered in the sport as a senior. Playing basketball in high school helped Meredith’s fine tune one of his biggest assets at the professional level: his ability to box out defenders and make the catch.

Meredith chose to attend Illinois State, and joined the team as a QB. However, their current starting QB, Matt Brown, was arguably the greatest player in school history, and was well on his way to becoming Illinois State’s all-time leading passer. During Meredith’s first season in college, he chose to redshirt, and sat the season out. The following season, he appeared in two games (Morehead State/Western Illinois), and went 3/5 for 9 yards over the course of the two games. In 2012, Meredith was given the backup QB job, and appeared in one game, the opener against Dayton. During the game, Meredith had an 11-yard carry, his longest of his career. In 2013, Meredith transitioned to WR, and broke out for Illinois State. He hauled in 21 passes for a team-leading 370 yards and 5 TDs. In the season opener against Ball State, Meredith recorded 5 receptions for 76 yards and 2 TDs. In 2014, Meredith enjoyed his best season as a college athlete, with 66 catches for 1,061 yards and 9 TDs. In doing this, he became one of only nine Illinois State players to record >1,000 receiving yards in a single season. He also recorded 5 games with >100 yards receiving, and recorded four of those performances in a row at the end of the season. Meredith’s best game came against Southern Illinois, when he recorded 8 catches for 182 yards and a score in one of the most dominant performances by a Redbird in school history. The tem managed to reach the semifinal of the playoff, and beat Northern Illinois and Eastern Washington to reach that point. Following the magical season, Meredith announced his intent to enter the NFL Draft.

Meredith entered the 2015 NFL Draft with hopes of his name being called on Day 2-3. A person pretending to be Patriots HC Bill Belichick called, and informed Meredith that they were planning on selecting Meredith with the 97th overall pick. The Patriots ended up selecting Oklahoma DE Geneo Grissom, and Meredith would proceed to go undrafted. Meredith signed with the Bears as part of a 15-player signing spree.

This article shed some light on Meredith’s performance at his rookie training camp, stating that although he had upside, he would need to contribute on special teams in order to stick around. The article also noted that while he was well-built, he would need to improve his route-running savvy. During his rookie season, Meredith recorded his first career reception against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2. He finished the game with 3 catches for 36 yards. Following the game, Daily Herald writer Bob LeGere wrote an article about Meredith, and emphasized his upside as a receiver, as well as his production in college. Meredith’s best game came against the Kansas City Chiefs, when he recorded 4 catches for 52 yards. He finished the season with 11 receptions for 120 yards.

Entering his second season, Meredith was slated to be the #5 WR, behind names such as Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Eddie Royal, and Joshua Bellamy. In Week 2 against the Dallas Cowboys, Meredith saw his first playing time of the season, and recorded 2 catches for 24 yards. In Week 5, with starter Kevin White injured, Meredith made his first career start against the Indianapolis Colts. He took advantage of the opportunity, and finished with 130 yards and a score. He also scored his first career TD on a 14-yard pass from QB Brian Hoyer, but fumbled twice in his inaugural start (one of which occurred in the fourth quarter, and ultimately cost the Bears the game). In the next week, Meredith had another solid performance, hauling in 11 passes for 113 yards. In Week 10 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Meredith made his career highlight play: a 50-yard reception from QB Jay Cutler on the final play of the first half. In Week 15 against the rival Green Bay Packers, Meredith caught 9 passes for 104 yards. The following week, Meredith set a personal best for receiving yards, with 135 yards. In the final game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings, Meredith threw a 2-yard TD pass to QB Matt Barkley.


This section will detail Meredith’s playstyle, and explain why he is such a valuable asset to the Bears passing game:

I- Catch Radius

One trait that allows Cameron Meredith to be such a reliable receiver is his catch radius. In this play against Indianapolis, Meredith fakes as if he is going to cross the field, but instead cuts back and sprints towards the corner of the endzone. QB Brian Hoyer then tosses a pass towards the back corner of the endzone that almost simulates a rebound in basketball. Hoyer knows that Meredith has the size advantage over CB Patrick Robinson, and allows Meredith to take advantage of the difference. The one-time letterman in basketball then proceeds to whip his head around, and locates the ball in the air. He then puts his hands up, and allowed the ball to come right to him, before pulling it down. Meredith is then careful to get both feet down while securing the catch. This play illustrates Meredith’s catch radius because it shows him using his basketball skills to make a play on the ball against a smaller defender.

Another play that illustrates this same concept is this one against the Green Bay Packers. Meredith is split out wide at the bottom, and is tasked with running a post route against the defense. Meredith begins his route, and proceed to cut inside as part of the play. QB Matt Barkley fires a pass over the middle to Meredith, and it appears that the pass may be too high. However, Meredith’s basketball skills come into play once again, as he sticks his hands up in an attempt to make a leaping catch. He snags the pass right out of the air, and is careful to secure the ball as he goes to the ground. This action is extremely important, as any movement of the football during the completion of the catch would result in an incompletion. Meredith knows that he cannot gain any further yards, and falls to the ground with possession of the ball. This play details Meredith’s catch radius because it shows him skying for a pass that is out of the reach of many smaller WRs.

This play against the New York Giants also demonstrates Meredith’s catch radius. In this play, Meredith is tasked with running a curl route against Giants CB Janoris Jenkins, one of the premiere corners in the league. QB Jay Cutler is flushed out of the pocket by DE Olivier Vernon, and buys time to look for a receiver. Meredith recognizes this, and begins to work himself open. At the last second, Cutler fires a pass across his body in the direction of Meredith. With S Andrew Adams nearby, Cutler is forced to place the pass low and away from Meredith. The placement of the ball is no matter for the 6’3” receiver, who drops to the ground and secures the catch. This play illustrates Meredith’s catch radius because it shows him adjusting to the football in a different way.

II- Athleticism

Meredith is very athletic for his build, and this shows up frequently in his play. This play against the Washington Redskins is a good illustration of this athleticism. Fellow WR Deonte Thompson runs an over route to clear out the underneath area for Meredith, who is supposed to work underneath and make the catch. QB Matt Barkley fires the pass into a tight window, where Meredith secures it and begins to turn upfield. He shakes off S Will Blackmon before turning towards the endzone, and begins sprinting towards the goal line. CB Joshua Holsey grabs ahold of Meredith, but the big wideout refuses to go down on first contact, dragging the defender for a few extra yards. Before going down, he stretches out every bit of his 6’3” frame, gaining every last inch possible. This play represents Meredith’s athleticism because it shows his ability to break tackles and stretch out when necessary.

This play against the Detroit Lions also demonstrates Meredith’s athletic ability. On this play. QB Matt Barkley drops back before hitting Meredith on a simple out route. Meredith is then able to make LB Tahir Whitehead miss, before turning around and beginning to run upfield. He then proceeds to run east-west, outrunning CBs Nevin Lawson and Asa Jackson, as well as S Glover Quin. Meredith is able to get around CB Darius Slay, and turns up the sideline to continue his stride. Slay regains his footing and reaches up to Meredith, and with the help of Lawson, is able to bump Meredith out of bounds. This play demonstrates Meredith’s athleticism because it shows him not only spinning out a defender, but using his speed to get to the edge around several defensive backs.

This play against the Jacksonville Jaguars is another play that illustrates Meredith’s athleticism. The play is designed as a screen, with WR Joshua Bellamy, LT Charles Leno Jr., LG Josh Sitton, and C Cody Whitehair blocking on the play. The play is designed as a tunnel screen, and the blocks are set up to allow Meredith to reach the second level. He quickly sprints through the course before meeting his first obstacle, CB Jalen Ramsey. The rookie is no match for Meredith, as the big-bodied receiver easily breaks through Ramsey’s tackle attempt. With Leno Jr. still out in front, Meredith is pursued by a pack of Jaguars defenders, including LBs Telvin Smith and Paul Posluszny. Finally, Smith is able to catch up to Meredith, and knocks him out of bounds. This play demonstrates Meredith’s athletic ability because it shows him using his speed to reach the second and third levels.

III- Sideline Possession

A third trait that Meredith possesses is the ability to make catches along the sideline. On this play against the Washington Redskins, he is tasked with running a corner route from the slot. He begins to cut towards the corner at about the 5-yard line, and CB Joshua Holsey is trailing WR Joshua Bellamy. Holsey realizes too late that his secondary responsibility, Meredith, is running to the corner, and cannot turn his hips around in time. QB Matt Barkley arches the pass towards the corner of the endzone, and the throw is right on the money. Meredith pulls the ball in, and tiptoes both feet in bounds before his momentum carries him out the back of the endzone. This play demonstrates Meredith’s sideline possession ability because it shows him getting both feet down along the backline of the endzone.

In this play against the Indianapolis Colts, Meredith is tasked with running an out route from the bunch set. Meredith reaches the first down sticks before cutting towards sideline, drawing CB Rashaan Melvin towards him. QB Brian Hoyer fires a strike towards the sideline, and Meredith puts his hands out in anticipation of the catch. He jumps up to pull in the catch, and immediately brings the ball into his body using a downward “pull” motion. He is careful to drag his feet in bounds before falling into the Bears sideline. This play shows Meredith’s sideline possession ability because he is forced to make a catch along the sideline, as well as get his feet down in bounds.

Another play that illustrates Meredith’s capability to make these type of catches is this one against the Minnesota Vikings. On this play, Meredith is isolated at the bottom, and is tasked with running a comeback route against CB Terence Newman. QB Jay Cutler rolls outside the pocket on a bootleg, and waits for Meredith to break open. Wth DT Linval Joseph approaching Cutler, he fires a pass to the outside in the direction of Meredith. Commentator Sean McDonough notes that the pass is a wobbler, and is fired high for the tall receiver. He jumps straight up, and snatches the pass out of the air. Meredith proceeds to pull the ball down in a “rip” motion. He then plants both of his feet in bounds before being tackled by Newman. This play shows Meredith’s ability to make catches along the sideline because it shows him jumping up to make a tough catch, as well as the act of getting two feet down.



Submitted June 17, 2017 at 10:51AM by sssl3
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