The folks at Draft Countdown have been keeping an eye on player/team interactions and observations this week at the 2011 Senior Bowl, and they mentioned an interesting one from Monday. The site listed the 49ers as having some interest in Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan in the 2011 NFL Draft. Additionally, one of Mile High Report's writers (Sayre Bedinger) is down in Mobile this week and he tweeted the 49ers met with Jordan. Considering Jordan is a top twenty prospect and one of the best defensive ends in the country, this is not exactly a shocking revelation.
The 49ers currently have Isaac Sopoaga at left defensive end, but I'd imagine they wouldn't be averse to a potential upgrade via the draft. Jordan is ranked fifth among defensive ends but in mock drafts he's going in the 15-17 range at this point. However, his early work in the Senior Bowl has him climbing in the eyes of most observers in Mobile.
Day one of this week saw Jordan measure in with the biggest hands while standing 6'4 1/8 and weighing 287 pounds. For comparison's sake, Justin Smith is 6'4 and weighs 284 pounds. Jordan's first day was a huge success for him as he had little trouble with most of the offensive linemen he faced. Day one was not in full pads, but players were certainly doing what they could to make impressions. It was a solid step forward for Jordan who has a chance this week to improve his draft stock.
National Football Post had a report on day two and it's safe to say they are loving them some Cameron Jordan:
I thought coming into the Senior Bowl week that California DL Cameron Jordan was the best senior prospect in the nation, and after a solid performance yesterday, the man took his game to another level today. Jordan was downright dominant at times as a pass rusher using his impressive initial burst, his violent/long arms and relentless motor to consistently slip blocks on contact and work his way into the backfield. He was effective both on the outside and lined up as a three-technique, and even played the run well at the point of attack inside. He was the one guy who I saw potentially making a move toward the top 10 with a dominant week and this was the kind of performance I was expecting from him.
Jordan is quickly becoming the darling of the Senior Bowl and at this point will likely have the biggest post-Senior Bowl surge on the Internet and potentially in draft boards around the league. The question is will he be somebody the 49ers could reasonably select at number seven in April, or will he be a guy the team would need to trade down to get? More importantly, is defensive end a position on which the team can afford to spend a first round pick?
It's a difficult question to answer at this point since his draft stock is not really settled at this point. Part of this comes down to drafting BPA versus need. In regards to need, one could argue the 49ers have a long-term defensive end need. Isaac Sopoaga gets crap from some folks but he has his moments. However, if Cameron Jordan is legit, the team would be set at the two end positions with Jordan and Justin Smith. Lock in Aubrayo Franklin at the nose tackle position and your defensive line is suddenly quite the strength.
Of course, it comes down to whether the 49ers think he's the guy they want at number seven or whether he's worth moving down hoping he's around a few picks later. This is of course also if the 49ers do want to go all out to get him. The use of the defensive ends in the 3-4 raises some questions as to whether the team should invest a high pick in another defensive end. Personally I think having two hell-raisers like Jordan and Smith would help the pass rush to the point that it could impact the secondary's ability.