Should Jordan be a top-five pick in this year's draft?
One of the most freakish athletes of this year's draft, Jordan combines excellent size (6'6" and 248 pounds), elite speed (4.6-second 40 at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine) and quickness off the edge and an ability to cover receivers in space.
He has the potential to thrive in the NFL as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme or as a 4-3 defensive end, and as such he's been mocked to teams that run both schemes throughout the scouting process.
For the purpose of this column, five experts will be featured—all of whom have Jordan heading to a different team:
- NFL.com's Mike Mayock
- ESPN.com's Mel Kiper, Jr. (Insider protected)
- ESPN.com's Todd McShay (Insider protected)
- BleacherReport.com's Matt Miller
- CBSSports.com's Rob Rang
Here's where these experts have Jordan landing in Round 1 of this year's draft.
Mike Mayock: New York Jets (No. 9)
Mayock has only one pass-rusher being selected in the first eight picks: Ezekiel Ansah to the Detroit Lions at No. 5.
Jordan landing with the Jets makes a ton of sense, as the Jets are in need of a pass-rusher in the worst way, and Jordan's skill set translates well as an attacking 3-4 outside linebacker.
The most explosive 3-4 outside linebacker in this draft is Dion Jordan. I think down the road, he could be Aldon Smith. I think he could be Jason Taylor. If he puts on 20 pounds, he could be DeMarcus Ware. He's got everything you want; he just needs 20 pounds and some seasoning.
Rex Ryan would be pleased to land Jordan to rush the passer, but there's a good chance Jordan will be long gone by the time New York makes its first selection.
Mel Kiper Jr.: Arizona Cardinals (No. 7)
The Cardinals desperately need offensive linemen, but Kiper projects the top three offensive tackles being selected in the first four picks.
Arizona could also target one of the top offensive guards (Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper) or a defensive tackle like Star Lotulelei, but Jordan would be a welcome addition to the team's defense as an outside linebacker in its 3-4 scheme.
I know they really like Jonathan Cooper as well, but this is one of those points where I believe the value of Jordan as a potentially dynamic pass-rusher in this scheme could outweigh the temptation of a player you know will be really good, but at a position you typically fill later in the draft.
Sam Acho and Lorenzo Alexander are both solid players, and Acho has the potential to become a star, but neither player comes close to matching Jordan when it comes to his combination of speed, size and quickness off the edge.
Todd McShay: Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 2)
A bold pick, to be sure, McShay's projection to the Jaguars doesn't come without risk.
Jordan does have the potential for greatness, but he also has the potential to be a bust in the NFL. He's a raw prospect who began his career at Oregon as a receiver and tight end, and when he made the transition to defense he didn't produce at the high level typically seen from a No. 2 overall pick (14.5 sacks in his three years on defense).
Furthermore, if Jordan is going to become a dominant defensive end, he'll need to add a bit of bulk and strength to handle the job. At roughly 250 pounds, he's a bit lean at this point in his career to be banging with offensive tackles and guards every single play.
Matt Miller: Philadelphia Eagles (No. 4)
This is a selection that really makes sense, as Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is familiar with Jordan from their time together at Oregon.
Also, the Eagles will be featuring a 3-4 look at least part of the time under new defensive coordinator Billy Davis, and the only proven 3-4 outside linebacker on the team's roster at this time is Connor Barwin, who was brought over from Houston in free agency.
After the combine, Miller was convinced Philly would select Jordan:
Dion Jordan to the #Eagles at No. 4. I'm writing it in ink.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 25, 2013
In his final mock before the draft, Miller writes:
Dion Jordan is a natural athlete, and he fits the team's need for versatile defenders... With his length, speed and raw athletic ability, Jordan can be a difference maker at the outside linebacker position.
Jordan would immediately compete with Brandon Graham, Trent Cole and Phillip Hunt for a starting role, and at the least, he'd be an impact player as a situational pass-rusher.
Rob Rang: Cleveland Browns (No. 6)
The Browns are making the switch to a 3-4 scheme this year under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Paul Kruger will start on one side, but there isn't a sure-fire 3-4 outside linebacker on the other side.
Jabaal Sheard could end up being that man for Horton, but it would be hard to fault the Browns for picking one of the most dynamic athletes in this year's draft to compete with him for starting duties.
By inking former Baltimore Ravens' standout Paul Kruger to five-year, $40 million contract, the Browns gave new defensive coordinator an instinctive, physical piece with which to build his 3-4 defense around. Neither Kruger nor Quentin Groves (a vastly less expensive free agent addition), however, possess Jordan's length, versatility or upside, however.
Jordan could be considered a luxury pick by Cleveland at this point, but if he pans out the way many project he will, he would be a luxury worth having.
Nobody expects Jordan to fall out of the top 10.
Where will Jordan land?
He's a rare prospect who has a seemingly limitless ceiling, and a team will draft him early in hopes that he reaches his potential.
Jordan has all the physical tools to become one of the NFL's premier defenders in short order, and it shouldn't be long before he's logging double-digit sack totals on a yearly basis.
He'll be one of the top players selected in the first round, of that you can be sure.
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