With Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck bypassing the NFL Draft to return for his junior season, California Golden Bears defensive end Cameron Jordan has stepped up to the forefront as the top Bay Area college prospect. Jordan is the only likely first round pick for either Cal or Stanford, perhaps even the only Bay Area player to go in the first two rounds.
Lining up at strongside defensive end, Jordan wreaked havoc with Tyson Alualu in 2009. With Alualu's departure, Jordan switched over to the weakside. Jordan was just as efficient in 2010, although average to mediocre linebacker play allowed stronger offensive lines to double team Jordan and take him out of games entirely. Tosh Lupoi has been touted as the main reason for Cal's recruiting revival, but his ability to develop top defensive linemen is looking better year after year; Alualu was a top ten pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Jordan should join him to provide Lupoi with two stud defensive linemen drafted in the first round.
Jordan's main strength is the array of pass rush moves he's accumulated, particularly the power and spin moves. One-on-one, he was very hard to guard, particularly against the Arizona Wildcats when he dominated Philip Garcia and managed to get multiple hits on Nick Foles (including a sack and a forced fumble); Jordan had a similar performance against Arizona last year. He is solid in run defense and was it virtually impossible for tailbacks to shed him once he got his paws on them, even for talents like LaMichael James, Chris Polk, and Jacquizz Rodgers.
The only knock is that he wasn't able to replicate those performances against the USC Trojans, Oregon St. Beavers and Stanford Cardinal teams that run pro-style offenses, although one could argue that the talent on the offensive side of the ball was far superior from two through eight as opposed to the remaining defenders in the front seven behind Jordan.
The only thing that could keep Jordan from being a first round pick is the fact that there are so many defensive ends/pass rushers that could go ahead of him--Da'Quan Bowers of the Clemson Tigers is a top five pick, and Marcell Dareus of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Robert Quinn of the North Carolina Tar Heels, and Adrian Clayborn of the Iowa Hawkeyes are all superb talents. Jordan does have the advantage of working in the 3-4 for the past three years, which is a staple NFL defensive scheme. He could also be considered for the 4-3 defensive end spot as well (the scheme he was originally recruited for at Cal).
Jordan was invited to the Senior Bowl, so you should be able to see him in action at least once before the NFL Draft.
More on Cameron Jordan can be found on Dan at Mocking The Draft. SB Nation's current mock draft (created by Brian Galliford) currently has Jordan going 13th to the Detroit Lions.