Earlier today, the Jets announced that they had signed offensive lineman Bruce Campbell to the 90-man roster, using up the spot freed up by Jermaine Cunningham being put on injured reserve. Jets fans might not know too much about Campbell, so I’ve been watching game footage to get an idea of what he brings to the table.
The 26 year-old Campbell was a fourth round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2010 and has also spent time with the Carolina Panthers. He has played guard and tackle, but never started an NFL game.
After the jump, I look in detail at his career so far with a review of footage from last year to evaluate some of his strengths and weaknesses.
Who is Bruce Campbell?
Campbell was a solid lineman at Maryland and having announced his intention to enter the draft early, he became a hot prospect with a spectacular combine performance which saw him run a 4.75 forty yard dash. Not bad for a player listed at 6’6″ and 320 pounds. He also did 34 bench press reps. Most sources had Campbell as a potential first round pick, with some even putting him in or around the top 10. However, he surprisingly dropped all the way to the fourth round where the Raiders took him.
Newsday’s Bob Glauber reported that the reason for this fall was because some teams had diagnosed him with a severe learning disability.
Four years into his career, it seems teams were definitely correct to be wary of drafting him in the first round, as he’s only really been a role player so far. Scouting reports said that his technique was ahead of the curve for an early entry candidate and obviously his measurables are outstanding, but he’s yet to establish himself as capable of fulfilling a starting role.
In 2010, he played just 10 snaps with the Raiders, as he only saw action on offense in one game. That came after he had been converted from tackle to guard in preseason. In 2011, the Raiders switched from a zone based run blocking scheme to a power running scheme and again Campbell, now back at tackle, didn’t see much time – nine snaps in five games. After the season, he was traded to the Panthers – for ex-Jet Mike Goodson.
In 2012, Campbell again didn’t see much action, although he filled in at guard for 22 snaps in the penultimate game of the season. Other than that, he only played 13 other snaps, usually as an extra blocker. 2013 saw him suffer a shoulder injury in preseason that caused him to end up on season ending injury reserve.
He worked out for the Jets earlier this offseason and attended the rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, but the Jets obviously preferred Marcus Zuševics, who they signed instead. Campbell then looked to have signed for Washington, but failed his physical and ended up not signing. He joins a Jets team desperate for short-term help at tackle with Zuševics (leg) and Brent Qvale (head) suffering injuries earlier this week. Right now, while they do have plenty of players who can fill in at tackle in a pinch, the Jets don’t really have a second team right tackle to pair with Ben Ijalana, unless they move Patrick Ford – who had been playing guard – out there, or get someone else to play double duty.
Here’s a great article I found from the excellent Cat Scratch Reader (a Panthers blog). This breaks down, with some examples, some of the things Campbell can do and where some of his weaknesses lie.
According to the above article, Campbell’s athleticism is good but his technique is inconsistent. However, when he puts it all together, he shows promise. That was written in February 2013, so now let’s review his performance in the 2013 preseason game he played against the Bears to see if he showed signs of progress from there.
2013 Preseason – Bears at Panthers
In this game, he entered with six minutes left in the first and played at right tackle for the rest of the game. It was his only preseason appearance as the shoulder injury emerged the following week. It makes sense to assess him as a tackle, because the Jets have plenty of options at guard but are hurting for tackles at the moment. For more on his abilities as a guard, read the above article.
- On the first drive, the Panthers drove to near midfield but then had to punt. On one play, Campbell set the edge well but the run was stuffed anyway. On another, the run went the other way, but he took his man and drove him out of the play, turning him round in the process. In pass protection, he got some help from his right guard but didn’t seem to need it on a 21-yard completion. On the next one, he managed to keep his man on the outside, although he did lunge a bit, relying on his long arms rather than footwork.
- The next drive again saw the Panthers move to near midfield before throwing a pick. As a run blocker he made one kickout block on a run the other way for 11, but on another play he didn’t make a clean second level double team block and the run was forced out for a loss. In pass protection, he coped okay on three quick passes, but allowed pressure on two others (which actually both got completed for first downs). The first saw him caught out as the defensive tackle set a pick for the end to stunt inside and then came off that to also pressure the quarterback. The second saw him lose inside leverage and get driven back into the quarterback.
- The next drive saw a turnover on the first play. Campbell repelled a spin move and then recovered as the end started to drive him back.
- The next drive was a three-and-out. He made a couple of good run blocks (second level, kick-out) and then relied on his arm length again to stay on top of an inside move.
- The last drive of the first half saw the Panthers eat up four and a half minutes of game time and score the go-ahead touchdown. One thing that was interesting here was that early on in the drive, Campbell blocked the end cleanly but allowed a safety blitz unblocked off the edge as the right guard tried to give him help. On two occasions after that, they adjusted and Campbell got over to pick up the safety with the guard coming across to block the end. On another play, Campbell allowed his man outside and then drove him upfield so that the quarterback could step up to make a first down throw. However, he didn’t look comfortable when backpedalling and at the end of the play he let his man get back to pressure the throw from behind. On another, he lost his man on a spin move to the inside, but the quarterback threw the ball before the pressure could get there. They mostly passed on this drive, but there was one zone play to the outside, where he moved well, although the runner was forced to cut back. The drive ended with this play which saw Campbell do a good job on an initial double, peeling off to the second level.
- Into the second half, the next drive saw the Panthers drive into Bears territory but then turned it over. He had a good block in pass protection as the Panthers had a moving pocket and the quarterback rolled to his side. He drove his man upfield and sealed him to the inside on that one. Campbell also had a decent kickout block but again lunged into it a bit. On one play he blocked his man at the point of attack but let him get off too easily to make a tackle on a six yard gain up the middle. The turnover was a fumbled snap where Campbell was driven back into the backfield and his man probably would have blown the play up anyway.
- Now late in the third quarter, the next drive again ended in a punt with Carolina still leading. The most notable thing on this drive was that Campbell allowed his man to penetrate and the runner got redirected as a result.
- There were two drives in the fourth quarter, the first of which led to a 50-yard field goal. On the first play, Campbell looked to pull left, but the defensive tackle barged into him to knock him off-course. It still went for 13, but only because the back broke a couple of tackles. He did well to re-anchor himself on a couple of plays where the pass rusher had him moving backwards later on in the drive. Campbell did false start on one play here.
- The last drive saw Campbell starting to show signs of apparent tiredness. (Note: His shoulder injury may already have been affecting him by this point and if you’ve ever had one, you’ll know they can sap your energy). He did play 52 snaps. On a couple of plays his pad level let him down and he allowed penetration although the run went the other way each time. On another, he was laboring as the quarterback scrambled and he tried in vain to get out to make a block for him.
Based on all the footage I watched, here was my take on what Campbell brings to the table, divided into categories:
Usage - Campbell is versatile, as he has played both tackle spots, both guard spots and as a jumbo package tight end. That comes in handy for a player whose best chance of making a roster is probably as a versatile backup.
Measurables - As noted, Campbell’s measurables are spectacular. Whether his strength was affected by his shoulder injury last year remains to be seen, but his numbers are very good.
Athletic Ability – Campbell has an explosive first step and moves well laterally and in space, where he’s extremely agile. For him, it’s more about winning leverage battles and keeping a consistent pad level. Knowing his assignment is obviously crucial too.
Run Blocking - There are times where Campbell looks really good in the running game, but he also loses at the point of attack sometimes and allows penetration. As noted a few times, he has a tendency to lunge and reach with his arms as he seeks to overcome inadequate or lazy footwork. However, because his arms are so long, he often gets away with this.
Penalties – Campbell doesn’t have any penalties in his NFL career. However, he’s only played 54 snaps, so that’s not really all that impressive. He did have the one false start in that preseason game against the Bears.
Pass Protection – As with his run blocking, Campbell moves well to get himself into position, but sometimes loses the leverage battle or allows his opponent to get separation by winning the hand-fighting battle. He again relies on his long arms a lot too. He didn’t get really badly beaten though, which is positive, and he seemed to do a good job of dealing with stunts.
Attitude – Campbell obviously has those concerns over his intelligence and that can’t have been helped by the constant changes in scheme, team and position. Still, he seems to have overcome these challenges to earn himself a reserve role in the past. It can’t be ideal for him to be changing teams yet again though, although he should be well equipped to handle it.
Injuries – Campbell missed all of last year with a rotator cuff injury suffered last August. He entered the NFL with doubts over his durability following injury issues as a senior, but the shoulder injury was his first since entering the league.
Scheme Familiarity – As noted, Campbell has played in zone and power-man schemes, so that should serve him well as he joins a Jets system with a scheme that uses elements of both.
Campbell doesn’t have a particularly impressive resume and it seems unlikely he would have time to get comfortable enough within the system to earn a roster spot. Still, having missed all of last year right at the point when he might have been set to take a step forward, perhaps he does have more to offer than he did the last time he played in an NFL regular season game at the end of 2012.
While the Jets perhaps felt Zuševics had more upside when they signed him and not Campbell back in May, maybe Campbell is a good option for a backup role. He certainly looked reliable enough and like he knew what he was doing in that preseason footage, albeit that he was facing backups.
In many ways, the fact he struggles to pick up pro-level schemes, but has been moved from pillar to post is reminiscent of the recently-departed Vladimir Ducasse. However, Ducasse was able to achieve a lot more in his first four seasons, even if he didn’t do enough to remain with the Jets.
Campbell’s versatility makes him useful and he’ll likely play an important role in terms of protecting Mike Vick and/or Matt Simms/Tajh Boyd in preseason. However, barring a rash of injuries on the line, his chances of still being with the team in a month are somewhat slim.