IDP Spotlight - Cameron Jordan
After being selected by the Saints with the 24th pick in 2011, defensive end Cameron Jordan was expected to aid a defensive line that was incapable of creating consistent a consistent pass rush. Jordan played the run well from the start (+10.1 his rookie year), but struggled to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks (-9.8 pass rush grade). As the year progressed he started to improve his pass rush, though, and finally recorded the first sack of his career in week 17. Consequently, Jordan was fantasy irrelevant for his rookie season.
Entering the 2012 season, Jordan had provided reason for optimism with his late season improvement. Even with an impressive 10 tackle performance in week 1, Jordan fell back into his 2011 ways as a pass rusher. After the first seven games Jordan accumulated a rather unimpressive (or impressive depending on how you look at it) -15.8 pass rush grade. In that same span, Jordan recorded three sacks and just 11 QB pressures, good for a meager QB interruption rate of 4.2%. Coming out of college it seemed that Jordan was best suited as a 3-4 defensive end, and it was beginning to appear that he may not have the proper skill set to thrive in the Saints’ 4-3.
Then, out of nowhere, Jordan had a breakout performance against Philadelphia in Week 9 that seemingly awoke his pass rushing ability. In said game, Jordan notched three sacks on nine QB interruptions. This performance was good for a +5.0 overall rating, +4.2 of which came from his pass rushing grade.
Beginning with the game against the Eagles, Jordan’s final nine games of 2012 included five sacks on 34 total pressures. His performance over that span was good for a +2.1 pass rush grade due in large part to his increase in pressure frequency to 9.9%. Still nothing spectacular, yet a dramatic improvement from his first seven games nonetheless. This improvement becomes even more evident when considering that he averaged essentially the same amount of pass rush snaps throughout the season. This table illustrates the major discrepancy in Jordan’s pass rushing efficiency:
|Pass Rush Comparison|
|First 7 Games||Last 9|
|Avg. PR Snap/Game||37||38|
|Pressure Per Game||1.57||3.78|
|Pass Rush Grade||-15.7||+2.10|
Had the Saints stuck with their 4-3 alignment, I would have liked Jordan as a DE2 in 2013 due to his considerable pass rushing improvement for the latter half of 2012. Despite his inconsistency, Jordan plays the run very well and records a lot of tackles as a result. His 51 solo tackles in 2012 were good for a little over three tackles per game, though that number will likely decrease upon becoming a 3-4 DE.
While the switch to a 3-4 may be more of a natural fit for Jordan, it will likely hinder his raw statistics and therefore his fantasy value. With a few exceptions (namely J.J. Watt), 3-4 defensive ends tend to put up less gaudy statistics than a 4-3 defensive end. Rob Ryan’s defenses have relied far more on OLB’s to get after the quarterback for the past two seasons, with no DE recording more than five sacks in his tenure with the Cowboys. Consequently, Jordan should be drafted as a DE3 this upcoming season. Even with his improvement I don’t expect Jordan to ever be a 15 sack guy, but reaching 10 is definitely within the realm of possibility.
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