The midway point of the 2013 NFL season is upon us. Canal Street Chronicles has teamed up with Capital One Bank to present the most improved player over the first half of the season.
While the 2013 Saints have featured a crop full of players that have improved greatly, two in particular have stood out to me the most.
There is no question that Cam Jordan has been one of a few Saints to make the biggest strides from 2012 to 2013. Drafted in 2011 out of Cal, Jordan was one of the premier pass rushers available in the first round and was expected to make big contributions from the start. It didn't exactly play out that way, as he tallied just 31 tackles and one sack in 16 games played. 2012 served as a year that showed what he could possibly become, finishing with 67 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. But this season, Cam Jordan has justified himself as a top defensive end in the NFL. Through just eight games in the 2013 season, he already has 23 tackles and 6 sacks, which is tied for eighth most of all defensive lineman. Not only are his speed and size formidable for rushing the passer, but he is a force in stopping the run as well. Cam figures to be the first Saint to get double-digit sacks since Will Smith in 2009.
When Hawthorne arrived in New Orleans in 2012, he was coming off of three straight seasons with over 100 tackles in Seattle from the linebacker position. He, along with Curtis Lofton, were supposed to be big free agent acquisitions for the Saints' slumping defense. Unfortunately, David wasn't as productive as Saints fans would've liked for him to be. Playing in 11 games, he registered a measly 38 tackles from the inside. In 2013, however, his performance has taken a complete 180 degree turn. Through eight games, Hawthorne already has 46 tackles and 3 sacks, which is one shy of his career high in a season. Not only is he a hard hitting, tackling machine, but he has established himself as a threat to the quarterback. Both of these qualities make him a real asset in Rob Ryan's diversified defensive schemes.
As I said earlier, these are just two of many players that have made big strides from the 2012 season. Who do you guys think have made the biggest improvements?