Why Dion Jordan's Sophomore Season Is Crucial to Miami Dolphins

BJ KisselContributor IMay 31, 2014

Sep 22, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan (95) reacts after defeating the Atlanta Falcons at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins were probably hoping for more production from the No. 3 overall pick last year, former Oregon standout Dion Jordan, whom the Dolphins actually traded up to draft in 2013. 

But finding a consistent spot for Jordan to play within their scheme proved to be more difficult than they probably expected. At least that's the hope, considering Jordan played just 339 snaps as a rookie, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), just 29 percent of the plays for the Dolphins defense. 


Jordan finished his rookie season with just 26 tackles, two sacks and two passes defensed. 

At 6'6" and 260 pounds, Jordan was seen as an athletic freak who could line up all over a defense during his time at Oregon.

He'd rush off the edge in a two-point, or three-point stance and would even hop out and play head-up on a slot receiver. 

These are the reasons he became the No. 3 overall pick and would allow the Dolphins to get creative in finding ways to use him. At least, that was the thought.

But with his size and frame, and the fact that the Dolphins used him mostly in third-down passing situations, Jordan never made the impact most hoped he would in his first season. 

Part of the reason Jordan was seeing time only in obvious passing situations was his inability to consistently anchor against the run. He needed to be more physical and learn and develop to beat offensive linemen or tight ends after engagement. 

Based on recent reports out of Miami, Jordan has tried to put himself in a position to be better in anchoring against the run this season, via James Walker of ESPN.com.

No Dolphins player made a bigger physical transformation this offseason than Jordan. Miami’s 2013 first-round pick was noticeably bigger to start OTAs. Jordan said he spent a lot of time in the weight room....said his main goal was to improve his strength to better combat offensive linemen.

It'll be interesting to see how Jordan's new physique could alter what made him such a special athlete in space. 

If this new muscle that Jordan added allows him to get more snaps in base defenses, but ultimately takes away from his fluidity or speed, that's a tough sell and big gamble for a player who was a fairly large investment. 

Here's a look at one of Jordan's two sacks last season, which came against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

Jordan's closing speed allowed him to chase down Newton from behind and make this play.

The question becomes whether or not significant weight added would hinder Jordan from making this same kind of play this coming season. 

For another example, let's look at Jordan out in coverage. 

Here's a play from Jordan last season out in space against the New England Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski.

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

Jordan is 25 yards down the field and up the sideline in making this play on Gronkowski. 

It's not just about the speed to get down the field and run with Gronkowski, but Jordan was getting his hands on him off the line of scrimmage, then displayed that ability to turn and run in space that we saw from him at Oregon.

This is the kind of play that made Jordan such a highly touted NFL draft prospect. 

Would added weight and muscle still allow Jordan out in space to make this play?

These are the kinds of questions the Dolphins have obviously asked themselves when Jordan was changing his body. Maybe Jordan comes out and has that same athletic ability and can do all of the same things.

But if not, that was a big gamble to take the one thing away that made him such a special player in the first place.