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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Oregon DE/OLB Dion Jordan

04.06.13 at 7:36 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Dion Jordan missed most of the 2012 season with a torn labrum but still is expected to go by the middle of the first round. (AP)

Dion Jordan missed most of the 2012 season with a torn labrum but still is expected to go early in the first round. (AP)

DION JORDAN

Position: Defensive end/outside linebacker

School: Oregon

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 248 pounds

Achievements: 2011 All-Pac-12 first team (coaches)

What he brings: If NFL teams were simply looking for the best athletic specimen in the draft, Jordon would be this year’s top prospect. However, the former Duck has to prove that he can bulk up and add power to that athleticism skill in order to fully translate to the pro game. That being said, there are some that still believe he might be the top defensive player in this year’s crop of rookies.

Jordan has drawn a lot of comparisons to the top pass rush prospects in the past few years. Mike Mayock, for one, has referred to him as a “raw Aldon Smith.” However, Jordan is much more of an overall defender than pure pass-rusher. Unlike many players who are lumped in as 3-4 outside linebackers to get after the quarterback and drop back into a zone to keep offenses honest, Jordan has real coverage skills in space and was even tasked with man up against slot players while at Oregon. On the flip side, he’s still a ways away from being able to play consistently as a 4-3 defensive end if tasked to do so. However, treating Jordan like another Chandler Jones would be a waste of his skills in space, despite their similarities as long, flexible pass-rushers.

Jordan’s numbers during the season (10.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks) weren’t stellar, although that can easily be attributed to him playing since October with a torn labrum, for which he recently had surgery. However, the edge rusher went on to put up some great performances in the scouting process, running a 4.60 40 time and 7.02 3-cone drill at the combine while also adding nearly 25 pounds to his frame. That last part has played a large part in Jordan’s rise up draft boards, as scouts were tentative of how a 225-pound edge rusher would perform. Now, though, Jordan has shown he has the work ethic to bulk up in addition to maintaining his athleticism at a higher weight.

Don’t get confused by the former tight end recruit’s “athlete” label. Jordan can play. His pass-rushing ability is elite among prospects, combining incredible length, bend and technique to get past pass-blockers on top of an explosive first step (did we mention he was athletic?). When moving in space or in coverage, he can take on blockers, move sideline to sideline and take down ball-carriers with authority like any pure linebacker prospect. At the same time, he also can stick with skill position players in coverage that no other potential 4-3 end has any business covering. All of this comes with a set of elite outside pass-rush skills. He’s versatile and can do whatever you need of a outside linebacker/defensive end “tweener.” Just don’t ask him to eat up interior linemen on running downs.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 (through trade)

Notes: Earlier this week, any thought of Jordan ending up on the Patriots was nothing more than a pipe dream, considering Jordan’s status as a top-10 prospect and Bill Belichick’s reluctance to trade up more than a few picks in the draft, if he does so at all. However, with news emerging last week that Jordan would be visiting with the Patriots, there may be something there. Belichick is smart enough to know that Jordan won’t fall to No. 29, so he may have something in the works. Or not. He’s been known to do strange things before.

As mentioned earlier, Jordan is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum suffered early in the season. While the rehab rendered him unable to perform at his pro day, Jordan’s stock is more or less intact at this point, and he didn’t really need to prove much else. Meanwhile, reports have placed the former Duck’s timetable to return at about the start of training camp, which should put teams looking to draft him more at ease.

Jordan’s main draw is his athleticism, as shown by the fact that his 40 time blew many other top prospects out of the water (yes, we’re talking to you, Manti Te’o). However, there are some concerns as to whether or not he can bulk up his frame to the level of Smith and Jones, who both weigh in at about 260 pounds. Jordan’s current weight of 248 pounds certainly will suffice for 3-4 defenses that want to make full use of his coverage skills and agility in space. But teams that would want him to become an elite pass-rush threat (i.e. the Patriots) would need him to add more to his frame if he were to slide in as a 4-3 end.

Related articles: Yahoo Sports: Perseverance leads Oregon’s Dion Jordan to brink of NFL after accident almost ended his dream

Pro Football Talk: Dion Jordan doesn’t miss playing offense

SB Nation: 2013 NFL Draft: Breaking down Dion Jordan’s strengths and weaknesses

Video: Here’s a compilation of highlights from Jordan’s 2012 season.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, 2013 Potential Patriots, Aldon Smith, chandler jones
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