In 2013, the Raiders had the 3rd overall selection in the NFL Draft. They traded that pick to the Miami Dolphins, who in turn used it to select Dion Jordan. Jordan has had a disappointing career for a draft pick taken that high. He’s never played up to the athletic prowess he put on display coming out of college.
Fast forward to 2019 and Jordan seems to have renovated his body. After coming into the NFL as a 6-foot-6, 240 pound rush linebacker, Jordan is now listed at over 280 pounds and is frequently deployed as an interior rusher. Lets take a look at his game:
Right now, Jordan is one of the Raiders’ pass rush specialists who come in on third downs. Two things pop of the tape when focusing on Jordan — his athleticism (balance, flexibility, speed), and his hustle.
Check on this rep against the Bengals. Jordan is able to stay on his feet when the guard is essentially trying to tackle him, and he brings down Ryan Finley before he’s able to break into the open field.
Usually, Jordan is called upon to run stunts, looping inside or outside to confuse pass protectors. This one such example shows the hustle mentioned above. When Jordan stunts inside and meets the center, he extends his arms and reads the QBs movement in the pocket. His long, extended arms allow him to disengage from the blocker and pressure the QB.
This is another example of Jordan running a stunt. This time, he’s looping outside and executing a contain rush. Even though Kansas City does a great job of picking up the twist, Jordan is able to drive off his foot nearest to the blocker and push the tackle back into the QB. His pressure prevents the passer from stepping into his throw and helps force an incomplete pass.
Without a doubt Jordan’s best play as a Raider thus far is creating the deflection that led to Maurice Hurst’s interception. Just watch and marvel at how athletic this big man is. First, he reads the screen and times his jump to account for the ball coming out quick. He has the coordination to put on the breaks and swat this ball into the air. Now check out what he does after the interception. Facing towards the Titans endzone, he opens his hips like a DB breaking on a fade route and turns to run as a downfield blocker.
Along with Will Compton, Jordan is the only mid-season acquisition to stick on the Raiders defense. This is likely due to his enormous athletic potential and modest production so far.
Jordan isn’t perfect. There is a lot of technique he needs to clean up concerning the use of his hands to win pass rush reps. That said, those things can potentially be learned. Coaches, however, can’t teach someone to be 6-foot-6, 284 pounds.
Look for the Raiders to keep Jordan on the roster for their move to Vegas in 2020. If Jordan can continue to turn the corner on his sobriety (like Darren Waller) he has a shot of being a major contributor on this defense.