In his sophomore NFL season, defensive end Cameron Jordan was an improved player on an awful unit. The Saints 2011 first-round draft choice led the team with eight sacks and caused three forced fumbles. If the Saints first two preseason games are any indicator, Jordan's progression seems to be accelerating at a rapid pace, even while he is making the transition from left defensive end in a 4-3 alignment to right defensive end in the 3-4. Against the Chiefs and Raiders, Jordan was a frequently unwelcome visitor in the backfield. While seeing limited action, his stats from both games include three quarterback hurries, two tackles for a loss and a sack for loss of 9 yards.
It's also obvious that Jordan just seems to be in better shape than the bumbling offensive linemen he has been going up against. Whether it's overpowering blockers or just going around them, the result has been the same: advantage Cam. At 6-4, 287 lbs, Jordan not only seems to possess the prototype defensive end frame, but also the perfect combination of power and quickness that the position calls requires.
In an article earlier this week by John DeShazier on the Saints official website, Sean Payton credits Jordan's superb play to his conditioning. "I think he's in a real good spot with his stature and weight right now," Payton stated. "He is in great shape. He came in in great shape to the conditioning test. He has very good stamina and is a great player."
Considering the physical transformation that Payton himself went through courtesy of Crossfit during his year in exile, his praise of Jordan is made even more meaningful.
For the Saints to be a complete team and make it back to the Super Bowl, they are in desperate need for a new super star to emerge defensively. Jordan appears to be on the cusp of filling that role. The potential he has displayed during the preseason indicates that he is a rising star and could become one of the league's top breakout players in 2013. What are your thoughts on Jordan's development and can he unseat Jared Allen, Julius Peppers and Jason Pierre-Paul as one of the NFC's Pro Bowl defensive ends in 2013?