Rookies In Focus: Dion Jordan
Steve Palazzolo breaks down the rookie seasons of those first-rounders expected to be the top pass rush threats from the 2013 draft.
Rookies In Focus: Dion Jordan
With the offseason in full gear, it’s time to review the 2013 season, particularly the rookies. After months of pre-draft drama, it’s important to look back and evaluate the success of each position group. If your favorite team was in the market for an offensive tackle, did they take the right one? Needed an edge rusher? Which one fell to your team?
This is by no means a definitive draft grade on any of these players, just a one-year look at their role and production, and perhaps a look forward to how they might improve.
Round 1, No. 3: Dion Jordan, Miami Dolphins
Total Snaps: 339
Defensive Right End: 236 (69.6%)
Defensive Left End: 22 (6.5%)
Linebacker: 79 (23.3%)
Defensive Tackle: 2 (0.6%)
Heading into the draft, most analysts had Jordan pegged as a 3-4 outside linebacker, or even a Von Miller-like role in a 4-3 where he could play SAM linebacker in base packages while coming off the edge to rush the passer in sub packages. When the Dolphins moved up to take him at No. 3 overall, the speculation began as to Jordan’s best fit. Would he become a movable chess piece to offset New England’s matchup nightmares at tight end? Would he become the edge rushing presence the Dolphins have lacked opposite DE Cameron Wake?
The Dolphins initial plan was to use Jordan mostly as a pass rushing defensive end to complement Wake on passing downs, but his inconsistency combined with the emergence of DE Olivier Vernon limited Jordan’s opportunities. He dabbled in a stand-up linebacker role on passing downs, often showing the athleticism that had scouts drooling prior to the draft.
Pass Rush Snaps: 206
Total Pressures: 24
Pass Rushing Productivity: 9.2
Opportunities were scarce for Jordan who only rushed the passer at least 20 times in a game once, and it happened to be his best effort in Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons. He abused left tackle Lamar Holmes on a number of occasions, including a pressure off the edge that lead to the game-clinching interception. His +3.7 pass rush grade was by far his best of the season, and it represented one of only four games in which he graded positively as a rusher. He was non-existent in a number of other games, including four in which he was completely shut out.
Watch as Jordan beats Falcons LT Lamar Holmes around the edge to force the game-ending interception:
Against the Run
Run Snaps: 87
Run Stops: 5
Run Stop Percentage: 6.7
The sample size is extremely small as Jordan played only 87 snaps against the run. Most of his positive plays against the run came when he was left unblocked as he struggled to shed blocks and was often handled by double teams. The Dolphins have reportedly suggested that Jordan put on some weight in order to hold up better in the running game.
Here Jordan lines up at defensive right end and gets blown into the end zone by LT Nate Solder and TE Michael Hoomanawanui:
Coverage Snaps: 46
Jordan spent a season-high 10 snaps in coverage in Week 12 against the Carolina Panthers, mostly manning the middle in short zones while keeping a close eye on quarterback Cam Newton in a spy role. But for Dolphins fans, there was one snap in Week 8 that showed Jordan’s potential. Against the division rival Patriots, Jordan made good on draft day expectations as he dropped to cover TE Rob Gronkowski and ran with the all-pro tight end all the way down the field on his “go” route down the sideline.
Watch Jordan run with Gronk:
As exciting as it is to see a 6-foot-7 defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid running with tight ends, the No. 3 overall pick is generally reserved for top notch pass rushers, and Jordan’s ability to affect the quarterback will be the ultimate determinant as to whether or not the Dolphins’ gamble was worthwhile.
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