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Cameron Jordan Goes Marching To The Saints

The first round of the NFL Draft is a fickle and bizarre landscape. The most assured guys don't always get picked first, as evidenced by guys like Cam Newton and Von Miller going #1 and #2. The players that end up at the top are often the ones you're afraid to miss out on, the ones that you fear will break out if you pass on them.

Sometimes you can be a fairly solid prospect and tumble down the draft boards, and  this is probably what ended up happening with Cameron Jordan. Marcell Dareus was the best guy. Robert Quinn has explosive potential. Ryan Kerrigan got more sacks. Nick Fairley is the Black Kirby. J.J. Watt is a specialized edge rusher. Aldon Smith moves around and shows more pure pass rushing skills. Corey Liuget seems like a better fit for a 3-4 defense, and Phil Taylor is a pure nose tackle.  

Basically, Jordan was solid in all areas, but didn't particularly stand out in any particular areas. In terms of NFL defensive ends, you generally want game-changers, and having all these guys with one or two particularly effective skills was enough to trump the all-around strengths that the Cal defensive end exhibits. And that's why he ended up falling.

Still, of all the places to fall to, the New Orleans Saints isn't too cold a spot.

Jordan will be moving into a 4-3 defensive scheme, and this might turn out to be an ok place for him. Although Jordan has played in a 3-4 for the past three years and might be better familiarized with this scheme, he might be better off in playing in a more distributed defensive line where he isn't forced to take on double-teams constantly. Playing as a five technique, where he engages tackles and tries to get to the run. Remember Tyson Alualu is now a 4-3 defensive tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars and he has adapted quite well to the surroundings, so don't think Jordan can be pigeonholed into one particular spot. Having more support from his defensive linemen could be just what Jordan needs to thrive. 

Gregg Williams of the New Orleans Saints favors an aggressive scheme, which does have some merit for Jordan, as he has been playing for an aggressive defensive coordinator like Clancy Pendergast. Jordan will be shooting the gap and trying to get to the quarterback a lot, something he had a decent amount of success with last season. Additionally, Jordan can be asked to hold his gap when necessary for the linebackers behind him to get toward the ball-carrier. The aggressiveness of Williams should fit in well with Jordan's personality, and he should be able to get a few more chances to sack the opposing quarterback than before. Jordan has had a few sack opportunities that he just missed, but with some honing of technique, Jordan should be able to improve and make more defensive plays/force defensive turnovers.

All in all, Jordan is in a solid place. He'll be in a defense that is generally in attack mode, which fits his personality. He'll be able to move around and be effective in multiple positions and techniques, since none of the Saints starters in the defensive line are blue-chip NFL talents. Jordan's not going to be racking up the big numbers early on, but he will be very solid fundamentally and execution-wise, and he's a good bet to be playing a long time in the league. He's a very safe pick, and someone who should be starting in due time.

There's a lot for Saints fans to like here, particularly since Jordan probably shouldn't have fallen that far in the first place.