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Cameron Jordan tops Making the Leap list for Week 4

Welcome to Around The League's latest weekly feature. This series is an extension of the offseason's Top 40 "Making the Leap" candidates, with a nod to Baseball America's "Prospect Hot Sheet."

One of the most enjoyable aspects of following the NFL is watching young talents develop, injecting a playmaking element that takes opposing teams and casual observers by surprise. A perfect example from last year was Randall Cobb, emerging from special teams weapon and occasional slot receiver to Aaron Rodgers' go-to receiver as the season progressed.

The goal of this piece is to highlight part-time players making the leap to difference-makers or unproven young talents ascending to key contributors. Once players have truly made the leap, they will graduate from this running list.

Our first graduate is Harrison Smith, who has established himself as one of the NFL's premier safeties. He's made the leap.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 prospects for Week 4.

You can be forgiven if you confuse the two. The Brownsmistakenly placed a phone call to Jordan -- already selected by the Saints in the first round -- when they drafted Cameron with the No. 102 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Jordan was left off this list the first few weeks because he already had made the leap to elite run defender last season. Through three games this year, it's evident that he's also emerging as one of the league's most disruptive pass rushers in Rob Ryan's scheme. He's suddenly battling the Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson as the best young defensive end not named J.J. Watt.

3. Damon Harrison, New York Jets defensive tackle

4. Star Lotulelei, Carolina Panthers defensive tackle

5. Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans defensive tackle

Along with Dontari Poe of the Chiefs, this fearsome foursome is at the heart of the most improved defensive fronts in the NFL.

"Big Snacks" Harrison has been the NFL's premier shutdown run-plugger in the middle. For a man of his carriage (6-foot-4, 350 pounds), his athleticism stands out on Game Rewind. Harrison's former community college coach described one basketball dunk as "360 degrees at 360 pounds."

As I mentioned on the "Around The League Podcast" Week 3 recap, there's a strong argument to be made that Lotulelei should have been a top-three overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. "He's not a star," Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy said this week. "He's a superstar. And this superstar is a beast. I see some crazy things for his future. When and if he does keep developing, he's going to be unstoppable."

6. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins quarterback

Tannehill showed pinpoint accuracy and the arm strength to squeeze passes into tight windows on the game-winning drive versus the Falcons last week (as seen in the video below). That should come as no surprise. According to Pro Football Focus, Tannehill's accuracy percentage is 78.5 on intermediate level passes -- in the air between 10 and 20 yards -- is the NFL's second best figure.

7. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans wide receivers

8. Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals defensive back

Your early favorites for offensive and defensive rookies of the year? Hopkins might have to shoulder the load in the passing game this week with Andre Johnson shaping up as a game-time decision Sunday against the Seahawks. Mathieu racked up 10 tackles and an end-zone interception of Drew Brees in Week 3.

9. Kyle Long, Chicago Bears right guard

10. Cordy Glenn, Buffalo Bills left tackle

Jay Cutler was sacked nearly three times per game last season. That number is down to once per game so far this year, as Long and fellow Bears rookie Jordan Mills have solidified the right side of the offensive line. Long has the look of a perennial Pro Bowl selection.

EJ Manuel took eight sacks last week, but the pressure largely came up the middle where left guard Colin Brown is battling Raiders counterpart Lucas Nix as the biggest swinging gate in the league. Glenn, meanwhile, is emerging as a reliable blindside protector as well as an asset in the running game.

Trainer's room:Jabaal Sheard, Shane Vereen, Eddie Lacy

*The latest "Around The League Podcast" previewed every Week 4 game. Click here to listen and subscribe. *

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