Bay Area fans looking for a dark-horse first rounder for the 49ers need not look far. When I asked Sporting News draft guru Russ Lande to go off the beaten path for the No. 7 pick, he took me to Berkeley and defensive end Cameron Jordan. The 6-4, 287-pound Jordan looked great at the Senior Bowl and reportedly had a solid pro day on Wednesday. (To be clear, I prefaced the question by asking who the 49ers could take if Von Miller!, Patrick Peterson and others were gone)
"I've been high on this guy for a long time," said Lande, a former scout with the Browns and Rams. "His father played in the NFL, so this kid's going to come in knowing what it takes. He might be the safest pick in the draft."
While Jordan did some drills at linebacker Wednesday (stunning for a man his size), almost everyone sees him as a defensive end. Furthermore, most experts see him as a 3-4 defensive end. That's currently not a big position of need for the 49ers considering that right defensive end Justin Smith had another excellent season in 2010, leading the team with 8 Â½ sacks and going to his second Pro Bowl. Still, Smith turns 32 next season, and, as Lande notes, it might be worth it for the 49ers to have two top-tier defensive ends.
Lande notes that during their run of Super Bowls, the Patriots' 3-4 defense was built around a very talented defensive line. That line made a middling linebacking unit (See: TBC) much more effective.
"You'd have to ask, 'Could this guy be a Richard Seymour for us like he was with the Patriots?'" Lande said. "If he could do that, then it's probably worth the pick."
Most draft prognosticators have Jordan being taken somewhere between picks 10 and 20. Lande has him going to the Chargers at pick No. 18. (He has the 49ers taking Miller!) Here are Jordan's tackle, tackle for loss and sack totals his last three years at Cal:
2008: 47, 11, 4
2009: 48, 9.5, 6
2010: 62, 12.5, 5.5
Where have the 49ers evaluators been as college pro-day season has gotten underway this week? Here's what I've been able to glean:
* Auburn (Cam Newton, Nick Fairly, etc.): general manager Trent Baalke, director of college scouting Joel Patten.
* Alabama (Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones (foot), Mark Ingram, etc.): general manager Trent Baalke.
* Texas A&M (Von Miller!): national scout Matt Malaspina, south area scout Bob Morris.
-- Matt Barrows