Breaking Down How Miami Can Ensure Dion Jordan Is Top DROY Candidate

Thomas GaliciaContributor IIMay 22, 2013

May 3, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan (95) during rookie minicamp at the Doctors Hospital Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins hoped to get a shakeup on defense when they shook up the draft by trading up from the 12th position to the third position to get Oregon defensive end and linebacker Dion Jordan.

While Jordan's statistics at Oregon won't blow you away (121 tackles, 29 TFL, 14.5 sacks, two pass deflections and four forced fumbles), the athleticism and versatility he displayed while at Oregon will.

Jordan didn't just play defensive end and linebacker with the Ducks, he at times also lined up as a cornerback, covering not only tight ends, but also wide receivers. Versatility like this shouldn't be ignored by Miami, but rather exploited. By doing this, not only will Miami's defense show big improvement from last year, but Jordan would be the top candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. 

I'm not by any means suggesting that Jordan lines up as a corner, however, his coverage skills would work great at linebacker, specifically when it comes to covering tight ends—there is no reason why we shouldn't see Jordan covering either Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez on a few plays when the Dolphins play the Patriots

Miami should also consider using Jordan as a pass-rushing linebacker, which is where he excelled at Oregon. From looking at Jordan's highlights, he seems to have better burst when standing than he does out of the three-point stance. At one point last season when scouting Jordan as a possible Dolphins draft pick, I said this:

My only concern with Jordan is the fact that Oregon just moves him around on every play; I'm not exactly sure how that would translate to a 4-3 defense and if it would work with him lining up in a three-point stance (notice how you see him standing on each play, while with Werner he's in the stance most of the time).

It might seem like a small nitpick to most of you but there is a difference between the two, as some players tend to lose burst when coming out of the stance, especially taller players like Jordan.

The Dolphins can get away with using Jordan this way by using a strategy similar to one I saw the St. Louis Rams use against the Arizona Cardinals last season.

Notice how there are five men on the line for St. Louis in this picture (which is circled). Miami could do the same thing by adding Jordan to the line in a standing position on the weak side next to Jared Odrick. With Cameron Wake coming from the strong side, Paul Soliai, Randy Starks and Odrick coming from the middle, the quarterback likely will be flushed toward Jordan, producing a likely sack, tipped pass or turnover for the rookie.

Miami could also shift Jordan to the WILL or SAM linebacker position with Odrick moving to the interior (moving Soliai to the bench for the play) while lining up Olivier Vernon on the weakside. This lineup would still have your four conventional players on the line for a 4-3 defense, while still sending at least five men towards the quarterback and opening up a gaping hole for Jordan to run through.

The many possibilities of using Jordan for the Dolphins are large, in the same way that the Miami Heat have many possibilities in running their offense when LeBron James is in the game. Due to James' talent and versatility, Miami is able to go "positionless" and play a very effective small-ball game that allows them to thrive offensively while creating havoc on defense.

How does this translate to football? Jordan is almost LeBron-esque in his versatility, and with the Dolphins' strong defensive line and linebacking corps, they can afford to come close to playing positionless football on the front seven, especially with other versatile players such as Vernon, Josh Kaddu, Jared Odrick, Koa Misi and even Cameron Wake.

By fully maximizing Jordan's talent, the Dolphins will have a defense in the NFL's top five, and would lead to Jordan likely winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year based off of his impact.

That is if Jordan's stats hold up, however, so what stats would Jordan need in order to win the award? Likely a year similar to Julius Peppers' rookie season in 2002. Peppers won the Defensive Rookie of the Year that season with 12 sacks, one interception, five forced fumbles, six pass deflections and 29 tackles.

Twelve sacks is incredible, but with the amount of talent on the Dolphins line, it's likely that Jordan might be cheated out of a sack or two. Jordan should win defensive rookie of the year if he's able to record at least 30 tackles (12 for a loss), 8.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, five pass deflections and an interception while covering a tight end.

If Miami uses him like the LeBron-type Swiss Army Knife that he is, Jordan will reach, and possibly exceed, those numbers.