Updated Mar 21, 2013 - 10:25 am
NFL Draft: A closer look at Oregon's Dion Jordan
Dion Jordan/OLB/Oregon official visit list thus far includes Kansas City, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Arizona & New York Jets....— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) March 19, 2013
With this Tweet, the Arizona Cardinals have set into motion their draft plans for the year. While teams can bring in up to 30 prospects for visits, Oregon's Dion Jordan, who attended Chandler High, may be one of the Cardinals' local prospect visits. Teams can bring in local prospects for workouts and interviews without it counting against the 30.
Jordan is an absolute Swiss Army Knife of a defender, but how and where would he fit in within the Cardinals defense? Is he a guy that could be an answer to the Cardinals pass rushing needs? Let's take a look at Dion Jordan, the prospect.
Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon - 6-7, 246 lbs
Pros: Jordan is a rare athlete -- and by rare, I mean someone that blends an NBA body and athleticism into a football player's mentality.
Jordan is comfortable standing up outside, as it was his primary position at Oregon, but has ability to move around a defense and even drop into coverage when needed.
Jordan shows a special ability to drop into coverage when asked to, showing loose hips to turn and run with the new breed of tight ends or bigger slot receivers.
When you look at the Cardinals' division and you see guys like San Francisco's Vernon Davis and St. Louis' Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks -- the new breed of vertical threat tight ends -- having a player that matches their size, speed and physicality is a weapon.
When it comes to rushing the passer, which is the most important role for a 3-4 outside linebacker, Jordan is bursting with untapped potential.
As ASU fans may remember, Jordan possesses such an elite and quick first step that he constantly wins without having any refined pass rushing skills.
He wins consistently off the line of scrimmage without having to redirect and using just a simple bend around the edge on the offensive tackle.
His natural ability to dip his shoulder around the edge without losing his balance and explode to the quarterback shows that he has a rare ability to get to the passer off the edge.
Jordan understands how to fight off offensive linemen with excellent hand usage, keeping them away from his chest, and allowing him to keep himself clean as he attacks the edge.
While his first step is elite in the pass rush, he understands how to maintain his responsibility in the run game as well. Whether it is in straight run plays or against the read option, he can be trusted to always keep his assignments.
Jordan stays in his assigned area and takes on the lead blocker head-on while sealing the blocker off without giving up any ground, allowing the defense to get to the runner and make the stop in the backfield.
Cons: Jordan is still more athlete than football player at times. He can take bad angles that can allow players to gain extra yardage.
Jordan will too often just use a speed rush or bull rush to attack the quarterback and get pushed past the play without having any type of positive impact. He does run himself out of plays too often. With his athleticism, he needs to figure out how to develop counter moves in order to more effectively and consistently cause pressure at the next level.
In the running game, Jordan needs to get stronger at the point of attack as he can be run at with some effectiveness. Teams with power run games like Seattle and San Francisco will look to exploit that.
As a tackler, Jordan can be overly aggressive at times, lunging and failing to wrap up. This causes him to deliver some devastating blows, but to also miss some easy tackles resulting in big plays by the offense.
My biggest concern with Jordan isn't the labrum injury he is coming off of, it is whether or not he can maintain his playing weight.
He was alleged to weigh in around 230 pounds during the season, and that can't happen at the NFL level.
Overall: Jordan is a special prospect because of his rare blend of size and athleticism that allows him to be used in different positions all over the defense.
He needs to be drafted by a team with someone at the defensive coordinator position that will allow him to showcase his versatility.
How he fits with the Cardinals: Jordan could be the answer to the outside pass rushing need the Cardinals have had since the Bertrand Berry days.
Lining him up on the outside next to Darnell Dockett or Calais Campbell will allow him to be on an island versus tackles or even tight ends, and give him an early advantage in pass rushing downs.
His ability to play man coverage against the tight ends in the division, and his familiarity with defending the read option offense, make him an intriguing prospect that the Cardinals could add to their defense.
Seth Cox/The Sports Headquarters, Editor-in-chief of The Sports Headquarters
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