Dion Jordan to Dolphins: How Does the OLB Fit with Miami?

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Dion Jordan to Dolphins: How Does the OLB Fit with Miami?
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Dion Jordan. Cameron Wake. A bead of sweat forms on the quarterback's brow.

Jeff Ireland pulled off a bold masterstroke when he moved up to the No. 3 pick in the draft. In doing so, he gave up just one draft pick—No. 42 overall.

Not only did he underpay, but he nabbed arguably the best pass-rushing prospect in the draft and shed his reputation for spending high picks on offensive linemen. But how will Jordan fit in with Miami?

 

Role

Jordan's task can be summed up in three words: pressure the quarterback.

The Oregon product was drafted to complement Cameron Wake like no other Dolphin has been able to in recent years.

Of course, just because his role is best summed up as a pass-rusher doesn't mean Miami won't utilize him in other ways. It will be interesting to see if Kevin Coyle will find creative ways to use him, given his versatility.

 

Roster Fit

Miami runs a 4-3 defense, meaning Jordan will likely spend much of his time playing right defensive end. But how much remains to be seen.

Oregon moved Jordan all over the field—he even lined up at cornerback, at times for a significant percentage of his defensive snaps—and Kevin Coyle can certainly do the same with him. The Dolphins have some scheme flexibility with the players on their roster—they only converted from a 3-4 and have much of the same personnel.

The former Duck has the athleticism to drop back into coverage if needed, made obvious by his role as a part-time defensive back. Jordan could be used as a weak- or strong-side linebacker in running situations, putting Jared Odrick at defensive end.

Hybrid defensive fronts could be in store as well, with Jordan occupying space on the outside and rushing the passer from a standing position.

As for where he fits on the depth chart, we can pencil Jordan in as the starting right defensive end today. Jared Odrick is playing out of position—he is better served as a five-technique end—and Olivier Vernon is still a work in progress.

 

Early Projections

Having paid to make a move to take Jordan, it is difficult to see the Dolphins keeping him off the field very much. As such, he could have a pretty good rookie season from a statistical standpoint.

Here are Jordan's stats from his tenure at Oregon:

Year Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk FF
2009 1 1 2 0 0 0
2010 21 12 33 5.5 2 0
2011 25 17 42 13 7.5 1
2012 26 18 44 10.5 5 3
Career 73 48 121 29 14.5 4

His sack totals aren't spectacular, but college production isn't everything. He played fewer snaps than most pass-rushers—something for which Jon Gruden criticized Jordan, but how many times did Jordan sit out the fourth quarter in a blowout?

And, again, he was utilized in a myriad of ways during his tenure at Oregon. A significant number of those defensive snaps came at cornerback. 

These are Jordan's snap count totals from last season:

To put them into perspective, Wake sacked the quarterback at about the same rate as Jordan did last year—Wake had 15 sacks in 530 pass-rush snaps—albeit the comparison is a bit unfair given the comparative levels of competition.

The good news for Jordan is that teams will be forced to reckon with Cameron Wake on the other side. That means Jordan will see fewer double teams.

Double-digit sacks are not out of the question for Jordan as a rookie, though that might be a bit much. After all, Wake will surely get his share, and the Dolphins signed blitzing linebackers in Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.

An early projection for Jordan: 55 total tackles, 8.5 sacks.

Making opposing quarterbacks sweat is the name of the game for Miami's defense. The Dolphins got themselves a shiny new rook in their defensive chess set.

 

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