As an UDFA last year, Cameron Batson had an uphill battle to make the the Titan’s roster. Initially, he was waived and signed to the practice squad to start off the year. However later on during the season, he was promoted to the active roster and was able to contribute to the team. With the additions of Adam Humphries and AJ Brown, it will be even harder for Batson to make the roster this season.
Looking at the WR depth chart now, it is most likely that we will only be keeping 6 wide receivers on the roster. My guess would be that the first 5 spots would be taken up by Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, AJ Brown, Taywan Taylor, and Tajae Sharpe. This leaves one spot up for grabs. In this article, I will go through why I think that Cameron Batson will take the last WR roster spot.
For a player on the “bubble” to make the roster, Cameron Batson is a prime example of making the most of your opportunity. Although Batson may not have had the greatest production in 2018, he was extremely efficient catching 8 of his 11 targets. Two of the targets he did not catch were off target/uncatchable balls and the one last target was actually caught, but negated by a penalty. Essentially, Cameron Batson was able to catch all balls that were catchable. ZERO drops. He showed that he was a reliable target in college and so far it has translated to the NFL.
For Batson, the lack of production was more about the lack of targets rather than anything he could control. Take Antonio Brown and Adam Thielen, two of the top receivers in the league, for example. Brown only gained 167 yards on 19 targets and Thielen only gained 137 yards on 13 targets in their respective rookie seasons. I am not saying Cameron Batson will be Antonio Brown or Adam Thielen, but I wanted to show how production early on is not always indicative how good a player is/can be. Sometimes all it takes is more opportunity.
Batson has the speed, explosiveness, and agility to potentially be a big time play maker with the ball in his hands. With his 4.35 40 time, he has the speed that is lacking in our receiving corp. His 39-inch vertical helps compensate for his short stature. He graded out with elite speed and agility and also had great explosiveness.
Yards After Catch (YAC) ability
Cameron Batson’s greatest trait was being able to gain yards after the catch using his elite agility and speed. He seems to have a knack for making people miss and creating his own space in tight areas.
Batson has some impressive acceleration to get up field in a hurry. He gives Mariota an easy target and first down on these screen plays, especially when the corners are giving up cushion.
On this play, Batson follows his blockers, finds his running path, and attacks it with some power. He sees the openings well to gain yards after the catch. It is apparent on these plays that the Titans trust his ability to create yards on his own as they would often feed him on these screen passes and let Batson do his thing.
Cameron Batson may only be 5’8” and weigh 175 lbs, but he plays with a lot of aggression and power. He would consistently fight for extra yards and the first down against defenders that are much bigger than him.
Look at how the Titans trust Batson to convert on 3rd & 8 by throwing the screen to him. He lowers his shoulder and will not be denied.
Again, the Titans look his way on 3rd down. Batson takes George Iloka, who outweighs him by about 50 lbs, head on to convert the first down.
Although he catches the ball about 8 yards behind the first down marker, he will not be denied the first down on this play. Batson makes the Colts defenders miss and they are unable to take him down.
This ended up being a penalty against Cameron Batson, but still love his ability to use the stiff arm to break tackles. I realize the sample size is small, but at least we know the ability is there. Personally, I just love smaller players that play bigger and are not afraid of contact. He may be a smaller player, but he has a lot of “wolf” in him.
In the few reps that he played, Batson did show the ability to beat tight man coverage and get a nice release off the line.
On this play, he starts his release by attacking the outside foot of the corner. Once he has the corner bounce outside, Batson comes back in while clubbing the corner’s inside hand to gain the inside leverage. At the end of his stem, he breaks in to further the separation and make the easy catch.
Again, he does the same thing, but this time against softer coverage where he does not see a jam right off the line. He does a great job of not telegraphing his routes by using his head and shoulders to fake the fade route before he breaks back in. Also, shows great burst out of his break to separate from the corner. I like the effort level here as he stretches out for the ball and increases his catch radius. However, it is placed a little too far out as it bounces off his finger tips.
Cameron Batson was even able to create separation against one of the best corners in the league in Cyrus Jones. Batson runs a perfect 15 yard hitch. He stops on a dime at the top of his stem and even uses a nuanced (yet subtle) push off to create the separation.
Another trait that stuck out to me on tape was his ability to track the ball and make adjustments in the air. As a smaller receiver, these are crucial characteristics to increase his catch radius.
For example on this play, Batson contorts his body in the air to make this tough catch that is thrown behind him on his slant. He not only catches the ball, but prevents a potential interception from the trailing defender.
This play showcases his ability to track the ball down the field. He is able to readjust his body on this back shoulder throw and come down with it. Unfortunately, he lands out of bounds.
Rookie Cameron Batson getting some praise from the fans after this catch. pic.twitter.com/hZXLq6Y45S— Titans Radio (@titansradio) July 28, 2018
This rep came from training camp last year. I love the way he gets some separation on his route and is able to concentrate to catch this over the shoulder throw while staying in bounds.
Finally, we have seen this play in my deep ball article, but again Batson makes a great catch in it. Again, his concentration to catch the ball and make sure to stay in bounds is excellent. Although we have not seen it much on tape, these few plays are an indicator that he could eventually become a threat down the field with his deep speed and ability to track/adjust to the ball in the air.
Big Play Potential
Using all of these traits, I believe that Batson has the potential to develop into a big time play maker with the ball in his hands.
This play also did not count because he stepped out of bounds before catching the pass, but it does showcase his elusiveness in the open field. There is only a small sample size of him making big plays in the NFL, but he has been making these types of plays since college.
Cameron Batson once broke a dude down in college pic.twitter.com/QfszJNj5BG— Titans Tape (@TitansTape) June 16, 2019
As you can see from these plays from college, Batson can make these game changing plays by making multiple defenders miss in the open field. This gives me some optimism that with some more development and opportunities in the future that he could become a solid contributor off the bench.
At this point, I think Batson’s main competition for the last WR roster spot are going to be Darius Jennings and Anthony Ratliff-Williams. Jennings is an incredible kick returner, but I believe that Batson is the superior pure WR. Ratliff-Williams has shown the ability to make some tough contested catches in college, but it has yet to be seen if he can translate his skill-set to the NFL.
Training Camp and the preseason games are going to be crucial for this roster spot. In my opinion, evaluating all of the individual traits, I think Cameron Batson has the highest upside of the three WR’s competing for this spot. Also as I have said before, Batson seems to always make the most of his opportunities. That is why I am putting my money on Cameron Batson.