Today's SB Nation partner is the California Golden Blogs, home to the best coverage of the California Golden Bears. Buffalo has some connections to this blog, as the managers at CGB are called "Marshawnthusiasts" after, clearly, Marshawn Lynch. Today's guest is also a Bills fan, so we welcome Avinash Kunnath for our conversation on Bears defensive end Cameron Jordan.
"With Jordan manning the front-line along with the workaholic Derrick Hill at nose tackle this year, Cal's rush defense finished 34th in the country," opened Kunnath in his initial remarks. "The two years prior with Tyson Alualu on the other side, Cal finished 19th in 2009 and 15th in 2008. Most teams that didn't have a strong pass attack struggled to score points on the Bears defense."
More after the jump.
"Unfortunately, the Pac-10 has been a very strong quarterback conference as of late, and too many teams have taken advantage of our suspect pass defense, negating the effect of having two first round picks on the frontline and minimizing the impact of Jordan's contributions," Kunnath continued. "Still, it's safe to say that if we didn't have Jordan, Cal would have sunk to the bottom of the conference due to our anemic offensive production."
Kunnath consistently refers to the talent around Jordan being the problem, and not Jordan himself.
"The problem is the talent around him has been lacking," Kunnath said. "Outside the D-line, Cal does not have very good pass rushers (particularly at outside linebacker) and has struggled with a relatively thin secondary that cannot handle stronger and physical wide receivers, making the 3-4 particularly vulnerable to passing attacks. Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, Matt Barkley, Jordan Wynn, Colin Kaepernick, and Ryan Katz have all had dominant performances against us, thanks in part to dominant offensive lines that could double team Jordan long enough to ease pressure on the QB."
When discussing Jordan's biggest games, the Cal program hasn't been in some of the big bowl games or rough and tumble games in the SEC like most of our other Baker's Dozen. Kunnath instead analyzes Jordan's games against his homestate Arizona Wildcats and against top-ranked Oregon.
"It's very hard for a 3-4 defensive end to have big games, particularly when he's being double-teamed," Kunnath said. "Jordan's biggest games came against Arizona, when he dominated the Wildcat tackles and made Nick Foles eat the turf. Arizona averaged a total of 28 points per game the last two years, but they managed only 16 and 10 the past two seasons against Cal. He occupied so much attention against No. 1 Oregon that the Ducks offense had trouble moving the ball and scored only one offensive touchdown. Jordan, Hill and Alualu all teamed up to help shut down Toby Gerhart in the 2009 Big Game. Against teams that tend to run the ball a lot, Jordan and Cal's defensive line have been equal to the task."
At Cal, Jordan played both two-gap and one-gap responsibilities and worked with some great coaches, which will only help his ability to find a role in Buffalo's hybrid defense.
"He is versatile, so he has ten year [NFL] starter written all over him if his conditioning is right," Kunnath opined. "He played two gap his first three years with Bob Gregory before transitioning to a more aggressive one gap defense with Clancy Pendergast. Defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi has taught him an array of techniques and pass rushing moves - he can push and pull, and he can rip and swim. He can play 3-4. He can play 4-3. He is probably better against the run than against the pass, but he can definitely get sacks if the rest of the defense is good enough. He's not a game-changer, but he has had a clean bill of health. He will be a solid pro, just like his buddy Alualu in Jacksonville (an All-Rookie last season)."
We can analyze these players based on film and their combine. These college bloggers are here to give us insight into the entire college experience. Kunnath notes Jordan's sense of humor and overall intelligence when invoking his time on campus.
"He is a goofball," notes Kunnath. "Jordan put up a Gumby fade in senior training camp. He's no fool though - the man is finishing his degree in legal studies. He works at a local after-school program at a Berkeley primary school. He's going to have a successful career in whatever he does."
Kunnath continued when asked about what Cal fans will remember most about Jordan.
"His humor, definitely," Kunnath says. "He really does find a way to make you laugh in his interviews. Alualu was an extremely quiet and private individual; Jordan is the total opposite. You will eventually see him work his way into NFL Films soundbytes."
On the field, Jordan is a much different beast, though. Despite some early troubles settling into Cal's 3-4 defense, he's being compared to some pretty impressive company. He compares himself to Arizona Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett, according to Kunnath, but the Cal blogger goes more old school.
"In terms of temperament, he's far closer to Warren Sapp than Reggie White," Kunnath says. "He did kind of get lax in his diet early on and got too big in the gut when he was young (weighed like 300 pounds as a 3-4 DE in 2008), but his conditioning has been solid since then."
Jordan's father, Steve, enjoyed a 12-year NFL career as a tight end with the Minnesota Vikings. He went to six Pro Bowls from 1986-1991, and was named All-Pro in 1989. I asked Kunnath what type of presence Jordan's father has had at Cal and on his career in general. The response was helpful, but certainly not overbearing (no pun intended).
"Cameron's mom wanted him to play basketball when he grew up, but he grew out of it pretty quickly," began Kunnath. "His favorite team was the Vikings growing up (and he saw a bit of the Minnesota locker rooms as a kid), and Steve played a huge part in his development as an athlete. He helped run him through football training situations to help transition from being a basketball player to being a football player in high school (track, footwork/ladder drills, etc.)."
As for draft value, the Bills fan Kunnath has an idea where Jordan should come off the board - and it is not at third overall to Buffalo.
"As a Bills fan, I'm not a big fan of taking Jordan third. I think of all the defensive ends, he's the most likely to have a long and productive career, but of course if he struggles, the Bills organization would be reamed for not landing a game-changer like Dareus or Bowers. Whereas if they are interested in him, Buffalo should consider trading down a few picks to maybe 8 or 9 (Jordan isn't that undervalued, he'll be coming off the board sooner than people think) - above everyone who would take Jordan."
Thanks once again to our college blogger Avinash Kunnath from the California Golden Blogs.