3rd overall selection by the Miami Dolphins
Overview: After failing to agree to a trade for Kansas City left tackle Brandon Albert, the Miami Dolphins sent the #42 and #12 picks to the Oakland Raiders in order to move up to #3 and it was believed that the Dolphins had their sights set on Oklahoma Offensive tackle Lane Johnson. Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland had different idea’s and provided the draft’s first curveball when he used the #3 overall selection on Dion Jordan, the athletic edge rusher from Oregon. Despite playing linebacker and even occasionally nickel cornerback, the Dolphins intend to develop Jordan as their right end of the future and eventually bookend him with Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake. The Dolphins have had trouble stopping Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for years and appear to be following the New York Giants blueprint of pressuring Brady as heavily as possible. Once Jordan gets past his February shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, he will join Wake and second year defensive end Olivier Vernon to form an explosive 3 man rotation on the edges. The Dolphins were already considered one of the better front sevens in the AFC, but they added more youth and athleticism with the drafting of Jordan as well as the signing of free agent linebackers Dannelle Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler. Jordan needs to add significant bulk in order to be an every down NFL defensive end, and with his summer spent rehabbing his shoulder surgery he is almost assured to be a bit behind. His initial role will more than likely come as a situational pass rusher, with Jordan gaining more and more reps in the base defense as the season goes on.
Position Battles: If the season were to start today, the Dolphins starting defensive ends would be Cameron Wake at right end and Jared Odrick on the strong side. Dion Jordan and Olivier Vernon will compete to be the pass rush specialist to take over once Odrick slides inside on passing downs. Of the top four defensive ends on the Dolphins depth chart, Jordan is by far the most versatile athlete but is clearly the player with the most room for physical growth. While Olivier Vernon is not as talented as Dion Jordan, he is a year ahead in an NFL strength and conditioning program and is coming off a limited yet promising rookie campaign. The versatility that Jordan offers could allow the Dolphins to have all three of their top edge rushers on the field at the same time, Vernon and Wake at defensive end and Jordan as a nickel linebacker/blitzer due to his ability to cover and create mismatches.
Notable Match-Ups: The Dolphins have a brutal line-up of opposing quarterbacks on the 2013 docket but also have some below average offensive line match-ups that play to their benefit. Tom Brady twice, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and Andy Dalton make up over two thirds of the Dolphins schedule. The Dolphins do however get four games against the lowly New York Jets and what figures to be an E.J. Manuel led Buffalo Bills offense. The Dolphins front seven will face one of their toughest tasks of the season in week 1 against the Cleveland Browns and their offensive line featuring 6 time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas at left tackle, Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, and 2012 2nd rounder Mitchell Schwartz an emerging force at right tackle. When facing this caliber of quarterback line-up, if the pass rush fails to get to the quarterback consistently in 2013 it could be a very long year for the Miami Dolphins defense.
2014 and Beyond
Dion Jordan is a classic “boom” or “bust” prospect who does not really fit into any single position just yet. The Dolphins plan on grooming him as their every down right end which should ultimately be his best fit at the NFL level. A 6’6 frame and a massive wing span take his pass rush potential through the roof making Jordan one of the more intriguing prospects of the 2013 draft. Jordan’s playing weight at Oregon fell between 225-235 lbs., the Dolphins will want to get him up and around 260-270 lbs. in order to better prepare him for the rigors of every down battle in NFL trenches. The Dolphins have not come out and said it, but the plan is for Jordan to take on a full time role by year two. The Dolphins will look to use the same blueprint for development on Jordan that the San Francisco 49ers used on linebacker Aldon Smith his rookie season. Let him focus purely on pressuring the quarterback in year one while developing him for an every down role starting in 2014. The presence of Cameron Wake should provide a terrific example for Jordan and while he is not as physically gifted as the former Oregon Duck they do share a similar style of play. Having a Pro Bowl level veteran to take him under his wing and show him how the NFL’s elite prepare for Sundays will be of great benefit to Jordan. Wake’s presence also allows the Dolphins to ease Jordan into the defense and develop him at his own pace, rather than throw a player in serious need of added strength and bulk into the fire as an every down player. Once Jordan develops physically and learns the nuances of the defensive end position at the NFL level, his game changing physical ability and frame could make him a perennial fixture on the AFC ‘s defense in Hawaii.