How Should the Miami Dolphins Use Dion Jordan?

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IMay 9, 2013

May 3, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan (95) during rookie minicamp at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When the Miami Dolphins aggressively traded up to draft Oregon's Dion Jordan at No. 3 overall last month, the chase to identify Jordan's position in the Miami defense immediately began.

Is he a 3-4 or 4-3 outside linebacker? Or a 4-3 defensive end? 

However, the Dolphins freely admit that they don't have that answer. Yet. And there's a likely reason for the wait-and-see approach: Jordan is eventually going to be playing all over the place for Miami. 

Ahead of rookie camp, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland wasn't ready to commit Jordan to one position when asked by Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald if Jordan would play outside linebacker.

Could be. That’s what I like about him. He’s very versatile and he played linebacker there and he also rushed the passer...[When] we get our hands on him, [we will] see where the best place he’ll fit. We’ve got a great vision for him. Part of that’s going to be rushing the passer but the other part’s up to [coach Joe Philbin].

Jordan's lack of a position is not a negative. Quite the opposite. More and more, defenses are becoming hybrid versions of the traditional 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, making the acquisition of movable chess pieces like Jordan all the more important.

While a pass-rusher like Jared Allen has obvious value as a true 4-3 defensive end, Jordan brings equal value from versatility and the ability to move him around as a coordinator sees fit. 

In Miami, Jordan won't be asked to play 75 snaps as a standup outside linebacker. Or 75 snaps as a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end. 

As the scheme and defensive front changes from play to play, game to game and season to season, so will Jordan's position. And the Dolphins likely wouldn't have it any different. 

Remember, Jordan stands 6'6" and weighs roughly 250 pounds. At the NFL combine (per, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.60 seconds and had a vertical leap of 32.5 inches. His combination of size and physical skills is a rare commodity. 

At Oregon, Jordan was asked to rush as a linebacker and a defensive end (although more so as a standup linebacker) in Chip Kelly's "Joker" role. He was also asked to drop into coverage and blanket slot receivers, tight ends and running backs. 

No matter the task or position played, Jordan excelled. 

The Dolphins now have the freedom to produce a role for Jordan that asks him to do everything he does well. 

If they so please, the Dolphins can have Jordan play strong-side linebacker in a four-man front on early downs and then rush the passer in nickel situations or other obvious passing downs. They could also play more three-man fronts and rush Jordan and Cameron Wake on a high percentage of snaps. 

Miami could even stay primarily in a four-man front and rush both Jordan and Wake on a given side of the defense.

Each option is attractive, mostly because Jordan is such a versatile young player. It's the primary reason why Miami was so willing to move up several spots to take him. 

The Dolphins might not be getting the next Aldon Smith or Von Miller in Jordan. And that's OK. 

Jordan has the versatility and ability to redefine his own role, one that mixes a lot of the same things Smith and Miller do so well in their respective defenses. 

The Dolphins do not have a set position for Jordan, but that's only because his role at the next level is likely to be very diverse. When you have a defender like Jordan, you can't identify what he brings to the table with a singular definition.