Miami Dolphins Rookie Dion Jordan Impresses in Professional Debut

BJ KisselContributor IAugust 5, 2013

Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Darrion Weems (75) defends against Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan (95) in the 2013 Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There's only so much you can learn from a preseason football game. But one thing was made very clear on Sunday night: Dion Jordan is who many thought he was. 

The Hall of Fame game was between the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys, and the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NFL draft out of the University of Oregon showed the world the same athletic ability so many people raved about leading up to the draft. 

Sure, this wasn't a regular-season game, and the fact that it was a preseason game automatically diminishes anything positive for a lot of people. 

So while we can't profess Jordan the next coming of (insert some really good player from the past) already, it's got to be encouraging for the Dolphins' front office, personnel, coaching staff and fans that Jordan played well on Sunday night.  

It doesn't mean he'll play well in the regular season or that he won't do a complete 180 once we get to the games that matter, but this is the start you were looking for if you're a fan of Jordan. He showed everything in this game. 

The box score analysts will tell you that a two-tackle, one-quarterback-hit performance is nothing to rave about, but those who watched Jordan a little more closely might be a bit more encouraged. 

Jordan showed the three facets of his game that he'll need to consistently show to be the player the most optimistic Dolphins fans think he can become. 

The first and most encouraging thing Jordan showed was in a goal-line situation for the Cowboys. 

Jordan stacks up the Cowboys tight end and even drives him back a little to alter the route for the running back. He didn't make the play but showed proper leverage and hand usage on the goal line in run defense. 

Everyone knew about Jordan's freakish athletic ability when the Dolphins made the trade up to No. 3 to take him in last April's draft. But it was his core strength and ability to play the run that was the question. 

The play above doesn't mean those questions aren't still valid, but this does show that he has the technique and physical ability of playing the run in a goal-line situation. If there was one area that Jordan would have struggled and nobody would have been surprised, it would have been this situation. 

Fellow Bleacher Report NFL analyst Matt Miller even made an observation about Jordan's physical presence that should help him in this aspect of his game. 

Dion Jordan looks a bit bigger to my eyes. He needed to get stronger to play on the end of the line consistently.

— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) August 4, 2013

What we normally saw on display from Jordan at Oregon wasn't his ability to play the run, but his natural athletic ability. Whether it was getting after the quarterback or dropping in coverage, we saw a 6'6" freakish athlete flying all over the field consistently.

The question with Jordan was how that athletic ability would transfer over to the NFL. 

This next play displays his ability to get after the passer by driving the offensive lineman right back into the quarterback. This isn't indicative of many of the sacks you might see from Jordan during the 2013 season. He's more of your "bend the edge" type of rusher, and that's what many are expecting from him with his long, slender frame. 

On this play you'll see Jordan is able to get his hands under the pads of the left tackle and drive him back toward the quarterback. This is just a matter of leverage and technique.

When you combine elite natural athletic ability with leverage and technique, you'll end up with a very special player. 

This final play is what separates Jordan from most other 6'6", 248-pound humans. Jordan initially lines up like he's going to be blitzing the A-gap but then backs off and lines up like he's a middle linebacker. 

The Cowboys run a draw, and the running back actually has a decent-sized lane right up the middle of the field. This means that Jordan is on an island of sorts in the hole against a running back, and without missing a beat, he takes the proper angle and brings down the back for just a short gain. 

There aren't many guys in the NFL who can do the three things Jordan showed in just a short time against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Whether he can consistently do those things throughout the course of a season is a completely different story, but as far as skill sets and athletic ability go, he's at a different level than the majority of players in similar roles or positions.

That is one thing that can be determined in just one preseason game. 

Those who don't like the Dolphins or Jordan will find every reason not to buy into this one performance in a glorified scrimmage, and those who drink the Kool-Aid will believe this is a beautiful start to a Hall of Fame career (which would be poetic considering it was the Hall of Fame game). 

The truth is it was just one game that doesn't count for anything, but the expectations will rise after Jordan's performance Sunday night in his professional debut. Rising expectations are a good thing for a young player; it means you're on the right track. 

Based on this performance, albeit just his first, Jordan looks to be on the right track.