INDIANAPOLIS – When Dion Jordan arrived to Eugene in the summer of 2009, he envisioned himself thriving in the high-octane offense that head coach Chip Kelly had implemented at Oregon.
As a rail-thin 215-pound tight end, the 6’6” Jordan knew that his success in 2009 would have to come in the weight room needing to fill out his frame in order to survive major Division I football.
However as the calendar turned to 2010, Jordan found himself on the other side of the football and little did he know that a potential top-10 draft pick was about to evolve.
For Jordan, the switch took some time but looking back on it a chance to get on the field was the most important factor.
“I imagined myself running down the field, catching the ball from (quarterbacks) Darron Thomas or (Marcus) Mariota but things don’t work out that way,” Jordan said of his thoughts when he headed to Oregon out of high school.
“You’ve got to adjust. I adjusted and I took the opportunity and ran with it.
As an outside edge rusher, Jordan was a key cog in Oregon’s 3-4 defensive scheme, finishing his final two seasons with 12.5 sacks.
Jordan weighed in at 248 pounds at this year’s NFL Combine with plenty of room to add to that number thanks to his tall, lean frame.
NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock sees the immense potential in Jordan, even if it does take some time.
“I kind of like Dion Jordan who I think is two years away from being an Aldon Smith (San Francisco 49ers) type player,” Mayock said last month.
“He's got frightening athletic skills, and he's a year away. He would be a situational pass rusher year one, and if he puts 20 pounds on, I think he's going to be a perennial All-Pro. I really like the kid. But, again, that's a little bit of a risk reward. You're betting on this kid two years from now.”
With NFL teams continuing to employ 3-4 defenses, players with Jordan’s skill set are a rare breed from an outside linebacker presence.
Players like Smith or even Robert Mathis in the Colts 3-4 defensive scheme excel at rushing the passer and at the end of the day, Jordan knows that’s his biggest strength.
“My whole thing is getting after the quarterback, so pass rush would be my No. 1 (strength),” Jordan said.
During this year’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Jordan indicated that 3-4 teams around the league seemed to have more interest.
His athleticism intrigues NFL personnel and lining up all over the field at Oregon is something that Jordan believes will translate to the next level.
“It shows that I understand defenses, just adjusting to the defense on the fly, and just having the speed to come off the edge every play,” Jordan said.
“I never came off the field. I was all three downs, even four downs if you needed.”