What to make of this guy? He’s 6-7, weighs 241lbs and is one of the best athletes in college football. When Daniel Jeremiah asked 20 NFL insiders who will be the best defensive player in the league in five years time, one answered with Jordan.
Cue the hype.
Jordan was on a lot of people’s radar before that article, but it certainly brought about some national publicity. The league is becoming a place where bigger, faster and stronger succeeds. There’s unlikely to be anybody bigger, faster or stronger on defense than Dion Jordan in the 2013 draft.
Yet despite all the great freak-of-nature qualities, he’s not a brilliant pass rusher. Jason Pierre-Paul was raw at USF but he displayed some natural pass-rushing ability. He was consistently threatening off the edge, he showed better technique than you’d expect for a JUCO transfer. It’s easy to say after the event, but a lot of people were high on JPP. What’s more, he wasn’t just a tall athlete – he had a prototype physique for an elite pass rusher. He’s added weight since joining the pro’s, but only his background and lack of experience prevented him from being a top-1o shoe-in.
Jordan lacks a lot of that natural pass-rushing ability. It’s not really a surprise – he was a wide receiver in high school. His Scout.com profile listed hands and concentration, size and red-zone ability as positives during recruitment. With teams looking for athletic, big tight ends it wouldn’t surprise me if a few consider moving him to that position. Here’s a few quotes before he committed to Oregon in 2008: “I have a good combination of size and speed. I am great at creating mismatches on linebackers and can run down the field and make things happen. I’m pretty exciting on the field.” His HS Head Coach at Chandler, Jim Ewan, chips in: “The upside to Dion is that he could play three spots, TE, WR or DE. He takes pride in doing all three. I think that he will end up a big WR, who can move into TE when needed.”
It wouldn’t be the craziest story if he returned to offense. After all, he’s going to face many challenges as a 6-7 pass rusher.
The first issue is leverage. Tackles are going to have a pretty big target to punch in the chest. Is he ever going to be able to effectively bull rush or dominate a tackle with his hands at 6-7? I’m a big sceptic there. The best way to combat this is to be so much better yourself when it comes to upper body strength or as an elite speed-rusher. Jordan is neither – a great athlete for a guy his size, but not one of the great edge rushers in college football. In fact it’s bizarre to see a defensive end taking the coverage duties he gets at Oregon. At one point in the tape above he was practically lined up at corner back. Great pass rushers don’t tend to go that far away from the defensive line.
We’re two games into the season and Jordan – in his senior year – still has a chance to ramp it up and become a more polished overall player. Even if that doesn’t happen, it’s hard to rule him out as a high pick. Teams love physical potential and Jordan is one of the best. Defensive ends are among the most athletic players on a roster these days – it’s one of the main reasons why offensive line play is down across the league. How can a big, cumbersome tackle or guard expect to match-up against a guy like Pierre-Paul? The best athletes in college football are playing defense these days and not offensive tackle. It’s creating a problem for NFL scouts when they look for O-lineman, and it’s forcing teams to look for the next great athletic defensive end.
Jordan could be that guy. Or maybe he goes back to his roots and ends up at tight end? Either way he’s an interesting guy. And rest assured he’ll be talked about a lot between now and April.