Who Is Dion Jordan, and Why Is Everyone Raving About Him?
If you're not familiar with linebacker/defensive end Dion Jordan, now is the time to get to know one of the draft's most athletically dominant players.
Checking in at 6'6" and a lanky but chiseled 248 pounds, the former Oregon star ran the 40-yard dash at a blazing 4.60 seconds Monday at the NFL Scouting Combine. The time was the third-fastest time among defensive lineman, trailing only Connecticut's Trevardo Williams (4.57) and LSU's Barkevious Mingo (4.58).
In addition to his 40 time, Jordan finished the broad jump at 122 inches (fourth-best among defensive lineman) and the vertical jump at 32.5 inches. He also appeared comfortable and fluid in the hips during linebackers drills.
Dion Jordan isn't just an athlete playing football. He's a very athletic football player.— Eric Stoner (@ECStoner) February 25, 2013
NFL Network's Mike Mayock went as far Monday as to compare Jordan to San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, who registered 19.5 sacks and was named an NFL All-Pro last season.
"When I see (Jordan) play, I see a raw Aldon Smith," Mayock said, according to NFL.com. "He needs to gain 20 pounds (to fill out his 6-foot-7 frame)."
The 49ers drafted Smith with the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, and he became the fastest player (in terms of number of games played) in NFL history to 30 career sacks. Comparisons between Jordan and former linebacker Julian Peterson (51.5 career sacks, 21 forced fumbles) and Jordan and former defensive end Jevon Kearse (74 career sacks) have also been made.
While Peterson was more of a 4-3 linebacker and Kearse a 4-3 defensive end, Mayock has pegged Jordan as his top 3-4 outside linebacker in the 2013 draft class. If NFL general managers agree with Mayock's premise, he could come off the board in the top five picks this April.
The Philadelphia Eagles make a lot of sense at No 4 overall.
Dion Jordan to the #Eagles at No. 4. I'm writing it in ink.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 25, 2013
Not only has head coach Chip Kelly made the move from Oregon to Philadelphia, but the Eagles are transitioning from the "Wide Nine" 4-3 defense to the 3-4. Jordan is widely seen as a perfect candidate to play at outside linebacker in such a defensive front.
Even if the Eagles don't pull the trigger at No. 4, it's difficult to envision Jordan getting past the New York Jets at No. 9 overall.
A lot of talk about where today's monster performance could land Dion Jordan in April. I still like him most at 3-4 OLB. PHI, CLE, BUF, NYJ.— Ryan Lownes (@ryanlownes) February 25, 2013
While Jordan's current weight is an issue, he will enter the NFL capable of handling the coverage duties expected of the position in a 3-4 defense.
At Oregon, Jordan was lined up with his hand on the ground (more rare), standing up (frequently) and in the slot—surprisingly enough, covering Pac-12 wide receivers. His obvious comfort in space and overall athleticism will make him a versatile defender at the next level.
Dion Jordan is about to kill this hip turn drill. A unique mover in space.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) February 25, 2013
That said, NFL teams will want him to add to his 248-pound frame. A playing weight of 255-265 would be ideal for Jordan, but getting there by the start of the 2013 season might be optimistic forecasting.
According to NFL.com's Kareem Copeland, Jordan is scheduled to have surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder, which is expected to keep him out of action for 3-4 months. The recovery could make it difficult for him to add significantly to his frame before the start of training camp.
However, the injury could be at least part of the reason why Jordan hasn't been able to get to an ideal NFL playing weight. He played through the injury for most of the 2012 season.
Even with surgery looming, Jordan's name will be a hot one over the last few months of the draft process.
A long, explosive pass-rusher with room to grow, Jordan has likely cemented his name into the first 10 or so picks of the 2013 NFL draft. Favorable comparisons to Smith, Peterson and Kearse will only serve to ensure that stock.
How high he goes in April is another discussion, but Jordan's performance at the NFL Scouting Combine has certainly increased the buzz around one of the draft's physical specimens.
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