There's been a lot of talk recently on these boards that Dion Jordan isn't an elite prospect and we should pass on him if he falls to us in the draft. Neither of these things are true or have merit. The simple fact of the matter is, Dion Jordan is
an elite prospect and he should be the number one prospect our boards come draft day.
Let's start with the obvious here ...
Pass Rushing / Against the Pass
He's a freak, but in the absolute best way possible. He's fast, agile and uses his speed to blow by Tackles at the collegiate level. Even when double-teamed, he can only really be slowed down but never stopped. On top of his speed, he's athletic and uses his athleticism to drive back Tackles and Guards while managing to stop 'Backs for a loss. He's raw but if you're able to look past that, you'll see nothing but huge potential and a tremendous upside. His height, arms and speed give him an advantage that few have, even at the pro level. His burst at the line of scrimmage - caused again, by his ridiculous speed and agility - combined with his quick, fast hands give him an advantage at creating separation even against some of the best Tackles in CFB. If he's able to get around the edge, he's the best pass-rusher in college and it's really not even close.
Jordan is lining up slightly outside the Right Tackle here and is an example of his blinding speed having to be compensated for by offensive lines.
There are multiple things going on in this picture, but let's point to Jordan here. The interior of the defensive line creates the initial pressure and forces Foles outside, right into the arms of Jordan. Now, things to take note of here, the Tackle makes a fairly poor play and allows Jordan to get outside pressure and ultimately sack Foles, but this shows the compensation that Tackles and offensive linemen have to make in order to adjust to his speed.
Ultimately, the sack is made by about three different guys, but the initial push and sack are made by Jordan and the lack of containment that Tackles are able to get on him.
However, he's raw. This can be a good and bad thing, but a lot of people will take the word 'raw' and connect it to something bad. Jordan lacks an elite pass-rushing move - either by finesse or power - and can get stood up at the line of scrimmage if he relies too heavily on his speed and not focusing on getting separation. He also lacks a great technique and this causes him to lose a step or be half a second late, letting him be open to be blocked easily one-on-one by elite Tackles. Losing his bend is a cause for concern for those looking at Jordan. There are times when Jordan is too fast for his own good, too, and will over-pursue and lose the Running Back in the backfield or give a Quarterback an open lane to run through. If there is a positive to take away from this paragraph, though, it is the fact that everything you see here is a coachable error and can be fixed with the right motivation and coaching technique (Butler, anyone?).
Run Defense / Stopping the Run
This is where his lack of an elite separation move or elite technique hurts him the most. He's vulnerable against the run, especially if teams decide to run directly at him. He's just not strong enough to disengage blockers and get into the backfield with any consistency. He can't get any leverage on Tackles and/or Guards to drive them back and get to the Running Back when it's run between the Tackles. However, when it's run outside the Tackles, he becomes moderately better and can drive off Tackles with a little more consistency.
If it's run outside the tackles, he can use his speed and often times, catch up to the Running Back. This does mean that a big run could be conceded, but the effort is there. Where Jordan does excel in run defense is if the Running Back decides to make a one-cut move and bounce it to the outside because by that time, Jordan would have already used his speed and athleticism to get around the edge and a stop in the backfield can be made. Ultimately, Jordan would excel in stopping the run against someone like Ray Rice but would struggle mightily
against someone like Trent Richardson.
Here is a very good example of using his speed to get outside the Tackles. He manages to conceal himself, fake coverage and line up on the line of scrimmage.
He's easily able to locate the Running Back in the backfield barely after the initial handoff is made.
The tackle is easily made for a loss in the backfield.
This is easily the weakest part of his game.
Utility / Potential
This could be the best part of his game. Jordan is a versatile player that can line up almost anywhere on the field and excel. Many games this year he lined up outside the tackles, the interior of the defensive line and there were times where he lined up as a Nickle CB. He lined up as both a 3 and 5 technique 'End and this ultimately ended up in success when rushing the passer. He can be put anywhere on the field and find some amount of success (minus NT) and this shows what kind of athlete Jordan really is. His speed forces offensive lines to always know where he is and often times, would result in double teams off the line of scrimmage due to his initial burst.
This is an example of his versatility. He's lined up at LDE in their 4-3 scheme.
He's able to recognize that it's a quick screen to the Quarterbacks right side - his side - and diagnoses the play effectively and quickly.
The play is diagnosed and the tackle is made. Signed, sealed and delivered. He uses his speed to get to the Running Back and uses his long arms to make the tackle effectively.
The biggest upside to drafting him is the fact that he doesn't need to put on much size to be an effective 3-4 OLB. The knock on him is the lack of his size, or the fact that he is too tall, but this is nonsense. He's 6'6 245 pounds, but this is one of his biggest assets. If he were to put on more size, this would slow him down and ultimately take away from what he brings to the table.
This is another example of his pass rushing ability and his high ceiling and potential as a 3-4 OLB. He's lined up outside the tackle, but he's standing instead of being a 4-3 down linemen.
He was able to use his arms and speed effectively to blow by the tackle and collapse the pocket, generating the initial pressure which forces the Quarterback to step up in the pocket. This would ultimately be ineffective, though.
The Quarterback is able to side-step the initial tackle, but Jordan comes up from behind and makes the sack. His speed and use of his arms made it easy for him to get separation and ultimately, the sack.
His Biggest Flaw
His biggest flaw could be his lack of brute strength. Now, this isn't something that can't be fixed, but it's something that might cause a couple of red flags to be raised. He doesn't have the brute strength that a James Harrison has, but he does have the speed and athleticism that makes this balance out. Putting on a little bit of size, 5 lbs. or so might slightly mask this problem, but I think it would be unnecessary.
NFL Comparison / Overall
He projects to me like the next Aldon Smith. He doesn't have elite strength, but he does have elite size and blinding speed with the athleticism of a Wide Receiver. He doesn't have an elite pass rush move or elite technique, but he's a very, very intriguing prospect and probably the best of the 2013 crop. He's having surgery on his torn shoulder labrum, but this is his first significant injury so it's not a cause for concern.
Overall, if he's on the board, his skillset and potential would be too intriguing to pass up.
I encourage you to check out the video where I got the pictures - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNh0SgWe3rc - as it shows the plays in motion. Credit to winesfamily.blogspot.com for the video.