Dion Jordan is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s draft class and a strong showing at the NFL scouting combine proves he has the physical abilities to be a top pick in April.
While good numbers at the combine don’t necessarily equate to a significant change in draft stock, Jordan’s performance highlighted the skills that make him one of the best pass-rushers available this year.
At 6’6” and 248 pounds, Jordan has the length and athleticism to line up all over the defensive front. At Oregon, he had experience playing defensive end, outside linebacker and in the slot, lined up over tight ends and receivers with quickness rare in a defender his size.
While he is a versatile defender, Jordan, who logged 14.5 sacks (7.5 last season) in his career at Oregon, will likely end up in a pass-rushing role in the NFL. He has the speed, quickness and explosiveness to be a nightmare for opposing tight ends and offensive tackles, especially when lined up off the line and in space.
Because of his size and experience at defensive end, Jordan worked out with defensive linemen in Indianapolis. He didn’t disappoint, as his numbers are consistent with the tape. Jordan has the physical tools to be a fantastic defender at the next level.
With a 4.60-second 40-yard dash, talent evaluators got a glimpse at the speed he displayed when lined up in space at Oregon. His time was .03 seconds shy of the top time at the positional group and well within the range teams would like to see a player of his size post in the drill.
The 40-yard dash only indicates so much, though. Jordan ran well, but it was his showing in the 20-yard shuttle and broad jump that will make him money on draft day.
The 20-yard shuttle is a terrific indicator of flexibility, quickness, lateral agility and footwork. With a 4.35-second mark that was fifth among defensive linemen, Jordan showed he has the quickness to match his straight-line speed and elite athleticism.
The broad jump isn’t a relevant tool when translated literally to the physical movements of an NFL player, but it is often indicative of lower-body strength and first-step explosiveness—both of which he has a lot of. With a broad jump of 122”, Jordan displayed that lower-body strength, giving evaluators a strong indication that he’s capable of exploding off the line in pass-rushing situations.
LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo will garner a lot of top-five attention in April, but his football skills don’t yet compare to Jordan’s. Like Mingo, Ezekiel Ansah looked terrific at the combine, but he too needs a lot of polish before he can be a dominant NFL player.
Jordan has the physical tool and football skills to be a coveted defender in the top 10 selections. Jacksonville, Oakland, Philadelphia, Detroit and Cleveland could all be in the market for a pass-rusher in the top six picks alone.
One of the biggest question marks for Jordan will be his ability to recover from a torn labrum in his shoulder. He’s expected to be out 3-4 months with the injury, but there’s little reason for NFL teams to be concerned. The timeframe for his recovery should allow him to return to football before training camp (per NFL.com).
With the NFL game always evolving in a more pass-centric direction, the need for elite pass-rushers will continue to grow. Jordan proved he has the physical tools and pro-ready skill set to be a terrific professional defender. There’s a good chance a team in the top 10 will give him a chance to show it on Sundays.
*All combine results can be found at NFL.com.