Would Dion Jordan Fit in New England?

Could Oregon’s Dion Jordan be a Patriot in 2013? (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones

Oregon Ducks defensive end/outside linebacker Dion Jordan has been one of the most frequently-discussed prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft thus far; there’s a lot to like about Jordan, but he is also more of a projection than most of other top pass rushers in this year’s class. Would Jordan, a prospect whose ultimate draft position will be heavily influenced by his Combine results, fit in New England, and ultimately, will the Patriots even have a chance to select him in April?

Jordan’s appeal is obvious; he should measure in at 6’6” or 6’7” in Indianapolis, with long arms and a build which suggests additional growth potential. A tight end in high school, Jordan only recently transitioned to the defensive side of the ball in Spring 2010 and has a significant amount of developmental upside. In addition to Jordan’s height and length, his athleticism allowed him to handle a wide range of defensive responsibilities with the Ducks, adding to his value.

At Oregon, Jordan was employed as a pass rusher, most frequently out of a two-point stance, but was also asked to drop into coverage with regularity, using his size and length to jam tight ends and even wide receivers on occasion or make short drops into zone coverage. Jordan was also a member of Oregon’s kicking team. It’s fair to say that he’s one of the draft’s most versatile pass rushers, with enough film to make teams running odd fronts comfortable with his ability to stand up in the NFL. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock recently invoked Aldon Smith’s name as a comparison for Jordan.

However, it’s important to temper expectations for Jordan before they spiral out of control. The first issue with Jordan is that he didn’t play near his listed weight of 243 pounds last season, which in itself is low for a pass rusher who stands 6’6” or taller. Rather, Jordan was reported to have finished last season at a weight of 226 pounds, which is dramatically undersized for either a defensive end or an outside linebacker prospect.

Jordan is reportedly hoping to weigh in at 250 pounds in Indianapolis, which recalls formerly coveted Penn State pass rusher Aaron Maybin, who bulked from 227 pounds to 252 pounds before the 2009 NFL Draft. Maybin was ultimately selected by the Buffalo Bills with the eleventh overall pick, but didn’t work out; Buffalo released him in August 2011, in part because he had difficulty keeping his weight on, arriving at training camp at 225 pounds that season. Added weight may also fundamentally change Jordan’s style of play; one of his most appealing assets is his athleticism, which may be negatively impacted by an additional 25 pounds of mass.

Another issue with Jordan is his relative lack of impressive attributes as a pass rusher outside of his length and speed. Jordan doesn’t bend the edge particularly well, nor has he developed a wide repertoire of rush moves; he heavily leans on the speed rush or bull rush. The latter skill may not be as effective as desired in the NFL because of his relative lack of strength. Jordan’s long arms should help him shed blocks in the NFL, but at this point he cannot be considered a player with a strong anchor, which may also give a team such as New England pause.

It’s difficult to imagine Jordan in a Patriots uniform next season. He has a skillset which may appeal to Bill Belichick, but probably only if he weighs 250 pounds or more; there is almost no precedent for New England drafting thin players in their defensive front seven. Unfortunately, he won’t make it to the twenty-ninth pick at that weight. In a draft which is thin in terms of top-end talent, Jordan’s lack of bulk, strength, and polish are easy to overlook; if he weighs in around 250 pounds and performs well in individual drills, he could very well be one of the top ten picks in the class, perhaps to a team such as the Browns or the Jets. At 225 or 235 pounds, he may not be big enough for New England.

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10 Responses to “Would Dion Jordan Fit in New England?”

  1. mjp says:

    It’s so funny how this draft process works, someone like Ansah has zero pass-rush ability outside of stacking a blocker and hoping he can slide off towards the QB. But, he can anchor and when his bull rush gets stonewalled like it does on seemingly every attempt he can jump up and swat a pass, that makes him the hottest commodity around.

    Meanwhile Jordan has elite burst and speed around the edge, he has active hands, great length and better flexibility than Ansah which explains why even though Jordan spends probably half of all passing downs COVERING SLOT WR’s, he was able to accumulate more sacks than Ansah.

    But, since he might not play at 250lbs that’s all the reason to pass on him. I’d take him as is, no question.

    In reality, at 6’7” he has plenty of room to add bulk, and even if he does slow down a bit with an extra 20lbs on him he’s still more athletic than just about every other LB in this draft and in the league.

    This kid is silky smooth and explosive, he can blanket TE’s, chase down RB’s in the flat, tackle in space and get to the QB (I wonder exactly where his anchor is at as well, is it on par with Okafor or Lemonier, what about Mingo? If so then he’s a far better option overall).

    The Pats don’t need anybody like that, we never have issues with TE’s beating our LB’s down the seam or find a RB running free in the flat for a big gain and we have plenty of speed to threaten the edge from our pass-rushers (Ninkovich and Jones are solid 4.85 guys!). So why bother with Jordan, especially if the number on the scale doesn’t tickle our fancy.


    • acm says:

      the thing is that Ansah has the physique – height, weight, speed, athleticism – that are virtually ideal for the modern DE and even an interior pass rushing DT. Jordan has only the height, and as the article correctly mentions not much else on top of weight-keeping issues.

      I don’t know how many here have watched Ansah over a more extended period of time but I remember seeing the guy while he was still a back up, which was till not long ago as he became a starter at BUY 3-4 games or so into the 2012 season, iirc. To put it shortly, he was comical, lost and confused on the field. Every subsequent time I would see him, however, I could see a significant improvement in reading and understanding the game and what was required of him in whatever tech he was played thruout the D-line.

      I agree that he may not have much more in his pass-rushing playbook than the bull-rush but if you saw him how ridiculous and downright funny he looked not so long ago, you’d realize that where he is at now, is nothing short of a feat. Ansah may not be the most NFL-ready of the DE class this year – actually, he was is probably the least NFL-ready player in the entire draft – however the upside to this guy is absolutely staggering.
      He may not be an immediate contributor in the NFL, but I can only imagine what he would be like in a year under BB.

      As for Jordan, he doesn’t have the weight for a DE and if he gets there and manages to maintain it, who knows how he perform then, which is basically what this article is about. Imo, he is one of those players who are great at the college level but will find it hard to transition that game to the NFL.

      Anyways, just my 2 cents.

      • mjp says:

        Did you say that Jordan only has height? Was that in reference to BB’s desired measurables?
        I don’t have a problem with an undersized DE if he’s as talented as Dion Jordan. Let’s assume they somehow landed Jordan(and I don’t think he’ll be undersized for very long).

        I’d prefer we switch back to utilizing more 3-4, have Chandler Jones bulk up to about 290lbs (plenty of room on that frame and it won’t effect his speed, I’m still waiting for him to catch Kolb from behind) and put Armstead at the other 5-tech.

        I’d put Jones and Jordan on the same side and recreate what San Fran has with Justin Smith/Aldon Smith. Hightower and Armstead would seem to work as well (Armstead may surprise a lot of people).

        Then there’s the fact that the Pats’ biggest need outside of CB may be a cover LB because that has killed them, and there isn’t a better fit than Jordan. The league is pass-happy and Jordan is the best answer to these freakish TE’s and underneath WR’s that spread offenses that dink and dunk utilize so well.

        • acm says:

          yes, I meant he only has height as part of what BB (and many other NFL coaches) would be looking for in a player.
          He may have explosiveness and speed but those will likely heavily be affected if he gets to a NFL-normal weight level. The thing is no one can predict how he would perform if he gets to say 260-270 lbs – which in his case means adding 40-50 lbs alone – so you can just freely assume he would be as good as he is at the college level. There is simply no reference in his history as a player to suggest how he would handle such a weight gain or whether he would be able to maintain in the first place.

        • acm says:

          and you can’t just so easily assume that C. Jons can add 30 lbs to his frame to get to 290 w/o losing his speed and agility. Just because someone like say JJWatt can handle it, doesn’t mean Jones would – different bodies, different everything.

      • mjp says:

        I don’t disagree on Ansah’s potential, I didn’t see how terrible he was at first, but I did read about it prior to watching and re-watching 6 of his games. I was impressed with his run awareness and the ability to JJ sWatt passes (he’s the best run defender at DE by far, Montgomery may be next).

        However he is so far behind where JPP was coming out of USF, it’s not even close, he hasn’t shown any feel for how to create leverage or threaten either shoulder of the OT, and he doesn’t utilize anything resembling a pass-rush technique with his hands. He treats OT’s like OG’s, just squares them up and presses them, trying to bull rush and slide off.

        I’d be very concerned about projecting his development, JPP went in the 15-20 range, I can’t see Ansah being anything more than a late 1st rounder given the risk involved in his pass-rush devo.

        • mjp says:

          *No doubt someone falls in love with him after the combine but my grade would be late 1st to mid 2nd, just to clarify.

        • acm says:

          as I said, he has a lot to learn in terms of technique and such but the upside in Ansah is that these things one can be taught and learn. You can teach technique, you can’t teach physique, natural athleticism, etc, etc.
          Ansah already has the ideal frame of the modern day DE, one thing he needs is improving his knowledge of the game and he’s shown he can handle that.

  2. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    I agree with the article, a “tweener” for sure, to light for the pounding at DE, to light for LB,coverage skills?? Compare him to Datone Jones, and Jones wins every time, as a DE. Will be very surprised if he is drafted in the 1st round, because were do you play him? Compare him to Cornellius Carradine, and Carradine wins every time at DE.
    Jordon is about the same as Barkevious Mingo, who offers the same issue ,being to small for the DE pounding.

    • JH TARBORO says:

      I agree Russell totally! but i like this tweener, he is 6’7″ freak that i could see playing OLB and 2nd yr. with some weight DE. If he lights up the combine 1st round but 2nd round talent. I can already see the lovefest with his size and long arms. Could be great fit but we have other priorities.

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