It is not easy to be voted into the Hall of Fame. It is even harder when you are a lineman especially an offensive linemen but that applies to defensive linemen as well. Skill players just have an easier path.
If you count the number of so-called skill players (backs and ends) to the number of blockers, tacklers, sackers, and interceptors the latter group is shorted about 100 slots compared to the ratio that is on the field. Because of that, the non-skill guys have to truly stand out. They have to really have impressive resumes in part because they don't have piles of statistics like the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs and because of how the game has evolved those skill player statistics get more and more impressive. There have been some very recent strides made by non-skill players but still, the Hall is out of balance.
For a player to stand out from among his peers, he has to check a lot of "boxes". Those boxes are the traditional things that non-skill players are often judged by—longevity, post-season honors, available defensive statistics (which can be skewed), perhaps testimonials from peers, and maybe some sort of intangibles. Often, but not always, it seems voters weigh through those some or all of those things and cast their vote for any given candidate if they think he checks enough boxes.
With that background, we look at Cam Jordan. The 6-4, 287-pound defensive end is going into his twelfth season in 2022. He has shown no signs of slowing down having an excellent 2021 season.
In his eleven seasons, he's played 176 games, starting 175, has 107.5 sacks, and has been voted to seven Pro Bowls. He was First-team All-Pro twice, in 2017 and 2019, and Second-team All-Pro in 2018, and also was voted All-Decade for the 2010s. He's shown a penchant for deflecting passes being credited with 56 in his career and has good pressure numbers from organizations to keep them like Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus.
We also think he's appreciated by pro scouts ranking high in his skill sets, so he passes any eye test as well. In addition to being a good two-way end (plays the run and pass, i.e. is not a one-dimensional player) over the years the Saints have used him in unique ways. One of those things would be chucking the tight end on his side and then dropping into a hook zone to disrupt the third wide receiver on the opposite side who was running a shallow crossing route and doing a good job picking up the crosser.
What is so hard to measure though, is run defense. The only way to know is to watch the player closely and for Hall of Famer voters that is hard to do. They have to cover games—the entire action—and cannot always spare watching one player.
One opposing lineman said of Jordan, "He's going to take chances on you. He's quick off the ball, athletic and is striving to be the best defensive end there is." Said another, "He's kind of a jack-of-all-trades. He's fast, has a big motor and can rush anywhere along the line."
We've followed Jordan for a long time and we've seen him stack run plays, escape and make tackles on running plays. He's a delight to focus on with the NFL's All-22 package for a variety of reasons we've posted some plays on our Twitter account that caught our eye. He's made a believer out of us as to his skills.
So, with all that does Jordan have a shot at the Hall of Fame? Saints fans would say "absolutely". But is it the case? Maybe. But maybe not yet.
He may need to have at least a couple more years of top-notch play and get rewarded for that play by garnering post-season honors like the Pro Bowl or making All-Pro.
That is easier said than done going forward. In a league full of great edge rushers Jordan may lose some ground. In terms of All-Pro edge players like T.J. Watt, Myles Garrett, Nick Bosa, Joey Bosa, Micah Parsons (now a full-time edge player) and even Maxx Crosby are at the peak of their careers and make being voted All-Pro a challenge for anyone, especially for someone like Jordan who is asked to do a lot of things well especially since he's going to be 33 this season.
Jordan has made the last five Pro Bowls and had an excellent 2021 season so his tank is not on empty but it's only fair to notice that there are a lot of youngsters out there and when looking at a lot of Hall of Fame defensive ends they don't always fare well when they reach Jordan's age at least in terms of post-season honors, with the exception of maybe a Reggie White or a Bruce Smith.
We think, for him to have a great chance for the Hall of Fame, Jordan needs to add a few more seasons and hopefully add to his "honors" and also compile some career sacks. A career total in the 130s would do a lot in our view and to reach that he'd need to keep his current level (in his last three seasons he's averaged 12 sacks) for a few years.
For comparison, in looking at the defensive ends already in the Hall, the average career for those players is 14 seasons, 195 games, three All-Pro seasons, seven Pro Bowls, and 133 sacks (for players with known career totals, whether official or unofficial).
So, Jordan is right on the cusp compared to the others. So, to enhance his chances he needs to be that so-called "venerable veteran" who can still be productive. If he does that he'd be more seriously considered by Hall of Fame voters five years after he hangs the cleats up than he currently is.
The Hall of Fame is within his reach but being a linemen he'll have to really stand out.