With the NFL draft in less than two weeks, several prospects are still in play for the Eagles’ fourth overall selection. Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, and West Virginia’s Geno Smith are all strong possibilities, but Oregon’s Dion Jordan could prove too enticing to pass up should he be on the board at four.
Chip Kelly has spoken very highly of his rangy edge rusher, and Jordan has the length and athleticism that the new look Eagles have coveted so far this offseason. Take a deeper look at what kind of player Jordan is, how he fits with the Eagles, and decide for yourself whether or not he is worthy of a top 5 pick.
Jordan has 4.60 speed and is shows up on tape. Purely a speed rusher at this point, Jordan can beat slow-footed tackles off the snap. However, he shows little to no variety in pass rush moves and needs to develop inside and counter moves. Not a powerful bull rusher, but can dip his hips to slip by tackles. He takes very conservative angles to the quarterback, causing him to get washed out behind the quarterback. He does not give up on the play, though, and chases the quarterback to the whistle. Will pick up hustle sacks.
Versus the run
Jordan’s 6’6″ frame doesn’t do him many favors in the run game. He plays with poor leverage, but can absorb blockers when he gets low. Jordan has active hands to keep blockers at a distance, but can get manhandled when blockers get into his body and is susceptible to cut blocks. He is not violent when meeting blockers, instead trying to keep them at arms length while looking into the backfield to track the football. Not especially stout at the point of attack, but usually does not give up too much ground or get pushed over. Excellent in backside pursuit. Has the speed to track down plays from behind and displays effort and range to make plays sideline-to-sideline as well as down the field. He is fluid enough to make tackles in space and consistently breaks down and wraps up. Flows to the football well. His biggest issues are leverage and aggressiveness at the point of attack.
Unbelievable movement skills for a pass rusher. In cover 3, Jordan gets great depth in the flats and can react to the football. In man, Oregon used him as a press corner in the slot and occasionally out wide. His length and quickness bother receivers tremendously, and while he’s not quite fluid enough to stay with NFL receivers, he might be able to eliminate somebody like Jason Witten or Jimmy Graham one-on-one.
Perhaps the most athletic pass rusher to come out of college in several years (although Barkevious Mingo is very close). Clearly has the movement skills to excel as a 3-4 rush LB, 4-3 DE, or even 4-3 OLB. 6’6″, 248 pound frame has room for growth, though Jordan has had trouble keeping weight on in the past. In the NFL, he will need to add strength and play with better leverage. He is not naturally thick and must find a comfortable playing weight at the next level.
Other (durability, character, etc.)
Injured shoulder in 2012. Had 5 sacks in first 7 games, and none after the injury vs. Colorado. He was limited at the Combine, underwent surgery in March, and is not quite at full strength yet. As a front seven defender who has reportedly played at 225 pounds, it’s fair to wonder whether he can hold up physically in the NFL. No known character issues, and Chip Kelly has spoken glowingly of him.
Fit in Eagles system
Jordan projects as a strong side linebacker in the Eagles’ 3-4 system. He would line up across from the tight end in the base defense and move to defensive end in the nickel defense. Has the length, athleticism, and versatility the Eagles now covet in their defenders, but outside linebacker does not rank high on the list of team needs. The Eagles are set to move forward with Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, and Trent Cole as edge players, and all are proven players. Cole is aging and Graham has not played in a 3-4 defense in the NFL, but defensive end and safety are bigger needs for the Eagles.
There’s no denying Jordan’s remarkable talent and Pro Bowl potential. However, he has a long way to go as a pass rusher and is a question mark in the run game. He’s a finesse in-the-box defender, which is not always a successful combination. His path to immediate playing time will be difficult, and he’s certainly not the safest pick in the draft. The Eagles do need more athleticism and star power on defense, and Jordan can provide that, but I would prefer to spend a top 5 pick on a more proven player like Eric Fisher. I also consider Jordan to be a slight reach and think he should be drafted in the 10-15 overall range. If the Eagles do pull the trigger on him, they will get a player with an immensely high ceiling and a great rapport with the head coach.