One of the more exceptional athletes in the upcoming draft will be Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan. Listed at 6’7” 243lbs, he is fast and athletic and the Ducks have used him at defensive end, outside linebacker, and even had him cover receivers in the slot. He has all world potential, but at this point in the process, Jordan does not appear to have a position in the NFL and that is a big problem coming out of the gate. In some cases, versatility shows off all the various ways a player can be effective, but there are times when versatility appears to be hiding the fact that a player is not truly good at any one thing. Right now, this appears to be the latter. He is a former wide receiver/tight end that was moved to the defensive side of the ball at Oregon and looks the part of a basketball player converting to football. He has a good motor and appears to have the acumen to learn the game of football, but he still has a good deal of learning to do and while scouts will drool over all the potential he has and all the things he can do, coaches may cringe at the prospect of relying on him to help them win early in his career.
Jordan has the ability to speed rush on the outside and will flash a decent spin move. The problem is he always seems to rush to the outside and becomes incredibly predictable and easy to take out of the play as a result. the fact he was able to get so much pressure basically using one move over and over again is a testament to his athleticism. Periodically, he will go ahead and take himself out of the play for the offense, so there are teams that go ahead and single block him with a tight end and just wash him outside while the quarterback steps up in the pocket. The game against USC is a good example and yet he was still able to get a few good hits on Matt Barkley. For a guy his size, he turns the corner well and he has good feet like you'd expect from a basketball player, so if he can find a way to develop an inside game, it will make that outside rush more dangerous.
Between a lack of overall size at only 243lbs at such a large height and a lack of strength, he is rarely willing to attack inside. This could be a function of scheme, but if it is, the Oregon coaching staff is sending him outside because they know they cannot send him inside at this stage of his career. Lastly, Jordan has some issues protecting his legs and will occasionally hesitate when going up against running blocks seeking to block him.
The best projection for Jordan could be defensive end. His height could position him to be a guy like Jevon Kearse if he can master the position. The problem is Jordan does not fire out when he is in a 3-point stance. He stands up and makes himself an easy target to block. He is far more comfortable firing out of a 2 point stance, which is not great if he is close to the 6’7” height he is listed. He is a huge target for opposing blockers and as mentioned before, running backs can easily get under his pads and get to his legs in the backfield. The other issue with him playing defensive end is he needs to add a good amount of bulk. He needs to be around 260lbs to be an every down end at that height. If he can do this and not lose his athleticism, he could be a force. That does not do coaches much good as a rookie though as it will take some time for him to add that bulk.
The fact that Oregon uses Dion Jordan to occasionally in pass coverage against receivers in the slot is a great way to show off his athleticism, but he will not be doing that in the NFL. However, with added weight at his size, he could be a nightmare for opposing tight ends, which would definitely be beneficial to opposing defenses, thereby increasing his potential viability as an outside linebacker. It is also worth noting that because of Oregon's prolific offense, it allows them to take more chances with their defensive scheme and players like Jordan because if they make a mistake that gives up points, they will just get the ball back and go score again. This could slightly
inflate how impressive he looks and some of his production, but not enough to really downgrade much if at all.
Jordan’s impact against the run is not all that impressive. Again, this has to do with the fact that he is so tall, has poor leverage, and not much mass at this point in his career. It puts him at a significant disadvantage in that aspect of the game. In addition, Jordan is a guy who is more likely to try to avoid blocks than take them on and beat them. If Jordan is going to be an outside linebacker, it is conceivable that with his feet and athleticism, he could end up as a weak side linebacker, but that seems very unlikely. He is more likely going to end up on the strong side, especially if he gets his weight up to that 260lb neighborhood. He is going to need to get accustomed to taking on and beating blocks. On the plus side, Jordan does a great job of getting heel's depth and attacking inside against the run and has the ability to chase plays down from behind.
Overall, Dion Jordan has a bunch of tools and athleticism that could add up to a great NFL player and he should have great work outs in the upcoming draft process that will make scouts and fans drool with the possibilities, but if a team is expecting Jordan to come in and contribute immediately, they are probably going to be disappointed. If a team takes Jordan with the idea of taking the time to develop him, bulk him up, and just continue teaching him the game whether at linebacker or defensive end, he could be a fantastic football player in a similar vein as Jason Pierre-Paul was with the Giants. As a result, Dion Jordan should probably go in the latter half of the 1st round where the teams that are equipped for a guy like Jordan are going to be picking, but it would not be a shock to see him go earlier because of his eye-popping potential.
Fresno State 2012
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