The Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock. It has been almost a foregone conclusion the Chiefs will select one of the top left tackles, either Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M, or Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan, with their number one overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft Thursday night. What if they don’t? What if the Chiefs decide to go defense with their first pick? Since 2000, the Philadelphia Eagles went with defense in the initial round 7 times in 11 drafts (no 1st round picks in 2007 or 2008), with Andy Reid at the helm. Green Bay, in the same time frame, with John Dorsey as Director of Player Personnel, chose a defensive player 8 times in the first round, over 13 years (no picks in 2008 and 2 in 2009 – both defense). There is still a possibility the Chiefs could go a different direction. If relations with Branden Albert improve dramatically over the next 30 hours or so, or if Kansas City trades down a few spots, it is possible that Dion Jordon could be their man.
Dion Jordan the former Oregon Duck stands 6’6″, 248 pounds. He started 12 games in 2011, earning First Team All-PAC 12 honors. He missed some time in 2012 due to a shoulder injury. At Oregon, he played kind of a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position. He seems nicely suited as an outside linebacker in the NFL, sort of in the mold of Tamba Hali. He is athletic enough to cover receivers and tight ends, but with Justin Houston playing opposite Hali, are the Chiefs the best fit for Jordan?
NFL.com summarized Jordan potential in their scouting report.
Jordan offers a unique blend of comfort in space, length, and pass rush ability. His box scores may not appeal to everyone, but Jordan was frequently asked to cover receivers or tight ends after lining up in the slot opposite them. His future appears to be at strongside linebacker in a four man front, with the ability to rush the passer, or as an outside linebacker in a three-man front.
Lines up against slot receivers and tight ends, managing to stay with them in the open field in spite of his size. Flashes quickness and bend to beat tackles around the corner, can counter with an inside rush or spin move. Also quick enough to flatten down the line to make plays on inside runs. Willing to stick his shoulder into a lead blocker to free up other defenders.
The Chiefs seems to always have trouble matching up with strong, athletic, pass catching tight ends like Antonio Gates. Jordan could be an answer for Kansas City in stopping these types of opponents.
Dane Brugler from CBSSports.com offered this analysis on the former Duck:
Strengths: Rare athleticism for his size with loose hips and smooth footwork to move naturally in any direction. Looks like a basketball small forward in football pads with his tall, long frame and flexible joints, looking comfortable in space.
Fluid change of direction skills in his transition, quickly redirecting. Very good first step with natural bend and closing burst off the edge to flatten to the quarterback. Active and doesn’t quit. Uses his length well with violent hand use, using quick mitts to make it tough for blockers to combat them.
Physical striker to separate man from ball with the arms to easily wrap and finish. Fiery demeanor and has a good head on his shoulders. Good awareness and experience lining up all over the defenses’ front-7, even spending time covering the slot receiver and dropping in coverage. Still growing and sky is the limit with his athletic potential.
Weaknesses: Lean and lanky body type. Needs to add bulk to his frame and get stronger, but there are questions about how much weight he can add to his body. Lacks dominant upper body power to win with his hands. Still learning his pass rush moves and needs to develop in this area.
Needs to stay controlled, often overrunning the pocket or his intended target. Lacks experience putting his hand on the ground and rushing from a 3-point stance. Lacks a natural position and will be viewed as a defensive end by some and a strong-side linebacker by others.
Still raw in a lot of areas and will need time to grow at the next level. Strong durability concerns with various injuries over his career, notably a tender right shoulder that plagued him much of 2012. Only average production at Oregon with just 14.5 career sacks.
Charlie Campbell at walterfootball.com notes that Jordan is an explosive athlete who is ready to play right now. Campbell also lists intelligence as a strength and Jordan can learn other positions, and that he should be a better pro player than he was in college. Campbell mentions just a few weaknesses, including that he needs to improve his strength, his hand use, and tackling runners head on.
Fansided’s Josh Sanchez, who made also made mention of Jordan’s high football IQ, offers this overview of Jordan:
Jordan is a raw prospect, but his upside and athleticism are very intriguing to teams around the league. It is hard to imagine a scenario where Jordan will get past his old college football coach Chip Kelly when the Philadelphia Eagles are on the clock. Jordan needs to hit the weight room and continue to get stronger, but his lack of strength could be disguised if he is drafted by a 3-4 team that will keep him away from blockers.
If you’re looking for a relentless pass rusher that will never stop pursuing the quarterback, Jordan is your guy.
The overall picture for Dion Jordan is that of an extremely athletic, versatile, intelligent player who is a quick pass rusher and a good tackler (except straight on). He needs some bulk and strength but that can be gained naturally over time. As a Chiefs fan, what is exciting about Jordan’s talents, is as the 4th line backer, he can be used as a pass rusher and he has the size and athleticism to drop back in coverage. Charlie Campbell noted that Jordan could learn new positions. There is a scenario in which Jordan would be a fit with the Chiefs because, although he is considered an outside linebacker, he could learn the inside position next to Derrick Johnson and could be used in a variety of ways, especially if the Chiefs decide to blitz more often and from different directions. Having a versatile athlete like Jordan available is a very intriguing option. The fact that Jordan fills space in pass coverage, plus can cover guys like Gates adds even more value to portfolio.
If things stay as they are now, the Chiefs will more than likely stick to Joeckel or Fisher. If Branden Albert can’t be traded or placated, Kansas City will need a left tackle, so selecting one of those players would be the right thing to do. If the Kansas City retains Albert, or slide down the draft order via a trade, Jordan would be a very viable and exciting pick. Anytime a team as a chance at adding a player with Jordan’s potential, they have to consider it. It would be surprising if Jordan ends up a Chief, but it wouldn’t be disappointing if that happened.