Is Cam Jordan worth the Skins' top pick?

Is Cam Jordan worth the Skins' top pick?
April 11, 2011, 10:22 am
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Monday, April 11, 2011 6:30 a.m. By Rich Tandler
Redskins Blogger
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The quick take: The Washington Redskins have a need at defensive end, having used mostly converted 4-3 players there last year.
Cam Jordan of Cal is one of the few defensive ends coming out with experience playing in the 3-4 defense
If the Redskins want to use their first-round pick to bolster their pass rush, Jordan could well be the best pick. One of the most impressive personalities at the NFL Combine was Cal defensive end Cam Jordan. He came off as being confident without being cocky and someone who would be a great influence in the locker room and a hit with fans and media. More importantly, he is a solid prospect as a football player. He plays with a high motor and his on-field enthusiasm matches his upbeat off-field demeanor. Most analysts believe that Jordan will be among the top 20 players selected when the NFL draft gets underway Jordan almost certainly will be on the board when the Redskins first-round pick, the 10th overall, comes up. He could be still be there if the Redskins trade down to somewhere between the 15th and 20th picks, something that has been mentioned as a possibility. And scouts believe that he would be a good fit as either a 4-3 defensive end or, of more interest to the Redskins, as a five-technique (3-4 scheme) end. Should the Redskins consider Jordan with their first-round pick? The Redskins do have needs at defensive end. Adam Carriker is solid but not spectacular at left end while right end Kedric Golston is serviceable at best. Veteran Vonnie Holliday is a capable role players while nobody is quite sure what to make of Jeremy Jarmon, picked in the third round in the 2009 supplemental draft. Albert Haynesworth had his moments but he is unlikely to be back. Other than Carriker, the line is comprised of players best suited for a 4-3 defense who were shoehorned into the 3-4 out of necessity a year ago. The question is, however, whether or not a five-technique DE is worth a pick in the top half of the first round. Many view the position as one that can be filled with picks later in the draft. The position is comparable to interior offensive linemen or fullbacks in that regard, according to these analysts. That view, however, is beginning to change. Several five techniques could go in the first round this year. There are a few reasons for that. One factor is sheer numbers. In 2004, just seven years ago, there were just four NFL teams running the 3-4. In 2011 the number has nearly quadrupled, going up to 15. Teams that run the 3-4 used to be able to let players who were good fits for their schemes slide because so few other teams would be interested. Today, with almost every other team drafting running the 3-4, its much harder for top prospects to slip. Another reason is the presence of players such as Jordan and J. J. Watt of Wisconsin. Both are excellent athletes and although both are about 10 or 15 pounds lighter than the 300 pound weight that is considered to be ideal for the position, they make up for it with strength, quickness, and overall athletic ability. It might be a stretch to say that players like Jordan and Watt could revolutionize the five technique position but they could well change it from a grunt work job into one that contains a greater dimension of playmaking. In addition, Jordan would bring the element of being able to bring pressure on the quarterback. The Redskins are desperately looking for a pass rush threat to take some of the heat off of Brian Orakpo. According to some scouts, Jordan could rush the passer when call upon from the end position, move inside on passing downs and provide pressure up the middle, and occasionally throw the offense a curveball by rushing from a two-point stance. If you dont believe the scouts, just ask Jordan. Ive shown that I can stand up, I can play a 3 technique over the offensive guard, I can play a 5 technique, he said at the combine. Put me anywhere and Ill play. With Jordan, the Redskins will not be trying to project a player into a player into their defensive scheme. Jordan is one of the few end prospects coming in this draft out who actually played in the 3-4 in college. Cal switched its defense in 2010 when Clancy Pendergast, a former NFL defensive coordinator, brought the scheme with him when he took over the Golden Bears defense. So should the Redskins draft him with their first-round pick? If the improving their pass rush, which tied for 24th in sacks last year with 29, is a priority then they can go one of two ways. One would be to take an outside linebacker. Von Miller of Texas A&M is the top pass-rushing linebacker available but he is likely to be long gone by the time the Redskins pick comes up. No other linebackers project to the top 20. Robert Quinn was a pass-rushing beast playing defensive end at North Carolina and most project that he could stand up and play outside linebacker in a 3-4. But you have to be careful about projecting players into different positions, especially when youre talking about the Redskins who, as noted above, have too many 4-3 players being pushed into the 3-4 scheme. In addition, Quinn could well be gone by the time the Redskins pick. That means that defensive end could be the only way for the Redskins to go if they want to improve the heat they can put on the quarterback. That was, after all, their primary purpose for changing to the 3-4 scheme. A versatile weapon like Jordan could be just the cure for what ailed the Skins 31st-ranked defense. Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.