Following a turbulent four-year start to his career, defensive end Dion Jordan was released by the Miami Dolphins and picked up by the Seattle Seahawks - connoisseurs of great athletes and reclamation projects. In Jordan, the team has just that: a terrific athlete, and quite the reclamation project.
Jordan, initially a big-time tight end recruit, enjoyed two productive seasons at the University of Oregon before moving onto the NFL and the dysfunction of the Dolphins franchise. Suspensions and position changes would follow for the tweener who posted just three sacks in 26 games in Miami, with just one of those being a start. Having last played a game in 2014, Jordan is going to - for the first time in his career - have a defined role on his team, and it seems as though Pete Carroll and the Seahawks know just what it’ll be.
One of the main pre-draft discussions in Seattle leading up to 2016’s NFL Draft was the vacant SAM linebacker position, and how the Seahawks would go about filling it. Gone was Bruce Irvin, a three-down player who could play as a stand-up linebacker on base downs, and then come down to the line of scrimmage and rush the passer on passing downs. In his place was Mike Morgan, a true 4-3 outside linebacker. Seattle ended up doing little else to replace the departed Irvin, and Morgan stepped in, playing about a dozen snaps a game as the starting strongside linebacker.
In Dion Jordan, the Seahawks are getting back to the idea of a versatile, three-down SAM linebacker.
Of course, Jordan isn’t Irvin. He isn’t the same size, doesn’t have the same football background, and certainly doesn’t have the pedigree. What he does have, however, is a similar athletic profile and the skill set that could translate to a 3-down, multipurpose SAM linebacker the team once had in Irvin.
Here’s how both Jordan and Irvin stack up to Seattle’s ideals for a linebacker, per SeahawksDraftBlog.com’s Rob Staton:
Jordan’s 40 and three-cone aren’t within the Seahawks ideals, but the small difference is negligible - especially if Seattle really likes a player. For example, just K.J. Wright’s height and broad jump hit on Seahawks ideals in his draft year, but his vine-like arms made up for it in the eyes of Carroll and John Schneider. For Jordan, it’s his potential versatility to fill multiple roles that makes him such an appealing prospect.
While Jordan and Irvin’s athletic profile are similar in regards to Seattle’s idea of a linebacker, Jordan lacks the natural pass rushing ability Irvin came into the league with. Despite being a top-3 selection, he had just 14.5 sacks in 73 career college games. Combine that with the three sacks he posted during his time with the Dolphins and you have 17.5 sacks, or five less than Bruce Irvin had in just 26 career games at the University of West Virginia.
You can chalk some of the (lack of) college production up to learning a new position in a much tougher conference than the Big 12, against more NFL-caliber opposition, but that can only take you so far.
His short shuttle time of 4.35 seconds - 66th-percentile among all EDGE players per MockDraftable.com - would indicate a level of stiffness to his movement and game, something that’s reflected on film during his short time in the NFL - even on the plays where he got to the quarterback.
Of course, we must also address the concern that Jordan might not be the athlete that he used to be. It’s been almost two-and-a-half years since he played in a game. In a recent article by Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, he wrote that the last time he saw Jordan, he weighed 280 lbs. Jordan knows that he’ll need to cut the weight and get back into playing shape, because this is almost certainly his one and only chance to resurrect his still young career, and if he does it will be huge for both player and team.