First Round: Third Pick
With hybrid defenses becoming a bigger part of the NFL, so too are hybrid defenders.
Dion Jordan is not your typical linebacker, nor is he your usual defensive end prospect. The former tight end possesses a rare combination of length, natural athleticism and versatility.
In an increasingly pass-happy league it is a valuable luxury to have defenders who can both rush the passer and run with receivers in the slot. If used to their fullest potential, Jordan's unique set of skills will cost offensive coaches sleep.
|+ Tremendous size, 6'6", 248 pounds, and length||- Must improve his leverage at the point of attack|
|+ Blessed with terrific raw athleticism, fluidity and speed||- Durability may be a concern for some teams|
|+ Extremely versatile, played OLB at Oregon||- Lacks functional strength, a questionable 4-3 DE fit|
|+ Has some untapped potential as a pass-rusher||- Will have to play at a much higher weight in the NFL|
One of this draft class’ physical specimens, Dion Jordan combines length with outstanding natural athleticism.
Jordan’s tools were on full display at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he weighed in at 6’6 ¼”, 248 pounds and ran an impressive 4.60 in the 40-yard dash. Both in drills and on tape, he demonstrated tremendous speed and fluidity in his movement. He changes direction extraordinarily well for his size and appears to be a natural in space.
While perhaps lacking the functional strength to hold up at defensive end in the NFL, Jordan uses his 33 7/8” arms to keep blockers away from his body.
It is worth noting that he played below 230 pounds in college and must still prove he can maintain this new weight. Ideally he will be playing between 245 and 255 pounds at the next level.
From watching interviews and reading the impressions of other observers, I have concluded that Jordan is a great locker room guy, who appears very capable of learning and improving his craft. He seems to be a very nice, humble individual and a great teammate.
One concern many share is Jordan’s durability. He battled shoulder injuries late in the season and must undergo surgery prior to April’s draft to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Under head coach Chip Kelly, Oregon usually operated in a 3-4. The Ducks scheme had hybrid elements as well.
Jordan was used in a variety of roles, primarily serving as an outside linebacker after moving to the defensive side of the ball in 2011. When they did run a 4-3, Jordan often lined up at defensive end, typically in a Wide 9 alignment. It was not uncommon to see him lined up as a slot cornerback at times and, generally speaking, he held his own in coverage.
Do not let average college production fool you. Dion Jordan is a heck of pass-rushing prospect with raw ability and untapped potential. Because he was counted on to handle several other roles, Oregon did not exactly maximize his talents as a pass-rusher.
Raw athleticism and speed alone make Jordan a force to be reckoned with off the edge. Additionally, he utilizes long arms to keep blockers at bay as he collapses the pocket.
While he lacks a repertoire of moves, Jordan is not a completely one-dimensional speed-rusher. He shows the ability to beat blockers around the edge and with an inside move. Improving his leverage will make him a more effective bull-rusher, which would add a valuable weapon to his arsenal.
He is still limited in terms of countermoves but flashes a spin move on occasion and gives a solid effort.
Against the Run
Dion Jordan is a bit inconsistent against the run. While he has had games in which he has absolutely shined (see: Fresno State), there have also been instances in which he was exposed.
Jordan occasionally gets fooled and gives up contain on the edge. But he rarely, if ever, makes the same mistake twice in one game. Misdirection may cause him to over pursue at times, but he is ready for it the next time he faces that play.
Long arms help Jordan to keep blockers from getting to his body, but he has shown inconsistent leverage at the point of attack and lacks the ability to anchor when a blocker locks onto him.
That all said, his combination of length and speed helps him to make plays that many others cannot.
One problem with being an NFL linebacker at 6’6” is that height can hamper a player when it comes to breaking down and making tackles on much shorter ball-carriers.
Dion Jordan will occasionally fire through players when tackling, utilizing explosiveness in his lower half. As I will continue to emphasize, however, he must improve his leverage at the point of attack. If left uncorrected, this deficiency could lead to Jordan giving up yards after contact.
Still, his length allows him to make plays even when he's partially blocked. Jordan is a wrap-up tackler by nature and is not often guilty of simply going for the kill shot.
Use of Hands
The more I watched Dion Jordan, the more I became impressed with the way he is able to use his length to keep blockers at bay. Linemen rarely are able to get into his body to steer or drive him away and are often forced to try to use his momentum against him.
Jordan may not be consistently violent with his hands, but he flashes the ability to rip and shed blocks. Additionally his length can be a huge asset jamming receivers and altering the timing of their routes.
I have harped on Jordan’s leverage issues throughout this report. While he is certainly not poor in this regard, refining his technique will allow him to blossom into a far more effective pass-rusher and run-stopper.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Looking forward, Dion Jordan maybe this draft class’ most natural 3-4 outside linebacker due to his experience at the position in college. He will also appeal to 4-3 teams that utilize a lot Wide 9 fronts, which allow him to maximize his speed and length.
The sky is the limit in terms of potential. Jordan is already a very solid football player, but he has plenty of room to grow and improve his craft. He is a perfect fit for hybrid schemes that stress versatility and the right defensive coordinator could work wonders with his rare skill set.
Draft Projection: Top 10