NFL Draft Profile: Oregon DE/OLB Dion Jordan

This is the third in a series. Between now and April’s draft, we’ll profile as many prospects as possible.

THE RESUME

Chip Kelly did not attempt to hide his true feelings last week when asked about his former player, Dion Jordan.

“Dion’s just a special guy in my heart,” Kelly said. “I had an opportunity to be with him for five years. He came into Oregon as a receiver, moved to tight end, we switched him over to defense the beginning of his sophomore year. He just had a huge impact, not only on the field but off the field.”

Jordan, a four-star recruit coming out of high school in Arizona, had visions of spending his college career as a key part of Kelly’s high-powered offense. But instead, he was moved to the defensive side of the ball. The 6-6, 248-pound defensive end/outside linebacker flourished in two seasons as a starter. He was an All-Pac 12 selection in 2011 and had five sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and an interception as a senior.

Jordan will have surgery next week to repair a torn labrum (shoulder). He played the end of last season with the injury, but will face a three-to-four month recovery period.

Jordan has received plenty of accolades this week after running a 4.60 at the Combine. But before he even made it to Oregon, he saw his life flash before his eyes as a 17-year-old. From Paolo Boivin of The Arizona Republic:

The next day, following a morning practice, he visited a friend. One of the cars at the house ran out of gas and Jordan watched as his friends tried to siphon some from another car using a vacuum cleaner. They stopped for a while but left the vacuum on and walked out of the garage. Jordan looked over. Someone should turn that off, he thought.

He walked into the garage, alone, and flipped the vacuum’s “off” switch. It released a spark, which triggered a flash fire that leaped onto Jordan. He stumbled outside, not realizing the severity of his injuries until he looked at his arms and legs. Everyone else understood. He needed an air-evac unit immediately.

Jordan suffered second- and third-degree burns on 40 percent of his body. He spent more than a week in the hospital and a month in the burn unit. But Oregon continued to recruit him, and Jordan now is a couple months away from being a first-round pick.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Jordan ranked ninth on his big board:

Not sure he needs to bulk up because he offers plenty as he is, a potentially great 3-4 OLB. There’s some projection left if you see Jordan as a guy who should move to 4-3 DE, but I think he’s pretty good where he is. He went to Oregon with the possibility of playing either offense (TE) or defense (DE), but has emerged as an athletic, long-armed pass-rusher ready to help a team.

ESPN.com’s Todd McShay has him 11th:

Jordan dealt with a nagging shoulder injury late in the season, but he is long and athletic and has explosive upper-body power despite his lean frame. He can rush the passer from a two- or three-point stance, holds up in space and has the versatility to play multiple roles along the front seven.

NFL.com compares Jordan to Julian Peterson:

His box scores may not appeal to everyone, but Jordan was frequently asked to cover receivers or tight ends after lining up in the slot opposite them. His future appears to be at strongside linebacker in a four man front, with the ability to rush the passer, or as an outside linebacker in a three-man front.

Josh Norris of Rotoworld has Jordan eighth overall:

A personal favorite. Extremely fluid and agile from his linebacker spot. Could see him thriving as a strong side linebacker who moves into a pass rushing role when called upon. Strong hands and flashes persistence around the corner.

AN EAGLES SLANT

There’s a lot to like about Jordan from an Eagles perspective. He’s long, fast and versatile. And no team will know Jordan’s strengths and weaknesses better than the Birds. Remember, it’s not just Kelly. Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro coached Jordan at Oregon.

In a 3-4 scheme, Jordan would be an outside linebacker. I get the sense that pre-snap disguise will be a big part of what defensive coordinator Billy Davis wants to do. Jordan would fit in well with his ability to rush the passer and cover. In a 4-3 under scheme, he would likely be the SAM linebacker. Again, his versatile skill set would benefit him there as well.

As I’ve written before, the term “tweener” used to be a bad thing. But I don’t think that’s the case anymore. We still have two months to go, but right now, Jordan should be considered on the short list of potential Eagles targets with the No. 4 pick.

MOCK PROJECTIONS

* Keep in mind that many of these were published pre-Combine.

Kiper has Jordan going ninth to the Jets.

McShay has him at No. 5 to the Lions.

Tony Pauline of USA Today has the Eagles landing Jordan at No. 4.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has him going eighth to the Bills.

Rob Rang of CBSSports.com has Jordan lasting all the way to the Saints at 15.

VIDEO BREAKDOWNS

Here is a cut-up of Jordan against Washington State last season, courtesy of the fine folks at DraftBreakdown.com.

I mentioned pre-snap disguise and Jordan’s versatility above. On one play at the 7:54 mark, he initially lines up against the slot receiver.

But instead of dropping back into coverage, he comes on a blitz. Here, you see he goes right around the left tackle.

And finally, he hits the QB.

On a different play (3:38 mark), Jordan sets up at the line of scrimmage like he’s going to rush the passer.

But he drops back into coverage.

As you can see, the key with Jordan is versatility. If you’re a 4-3 team looking for someone to stick his hand in the ground and rush the passer on every play (think 2011 and 2012 Eagles), he’s probably not that guy. Maybe he could be with some added weight, but that would be a projection.

Instead, Jordan will stand up, and use his length and quickness to rush the passer from a variety of spots. And of course, he can drop back and cover too.

At the 4:34 mark, you can see him stick with a slot receiver in coverage. And at the 3:50 mark, you can see the offense try to unsuccessfully block him with a running back as Jordan picks up a sack.

To watch more of Jordan at Oregon, click here.

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