By: (@J_1010xl) James Johnson
Measurables: 6-6, 243
I remember watching the 2011 NFL Draft and hearing Rodger Goodell announce the seventh pick of the first round which the 49ers held. We all know those infamous words: “With the seventh pick of the 2011 draft, the San Francisco 49ers select Aldon Smith.” Obviously confused, I thought to myself,why didn't they take Blaine Gabbert? They clearly need a QB!
Fast forward one season later and it's clear why they took the kid who is now one of the best defensive players and pass rushers in the league. He became a game-changer in his rookie season by accumulating 14 sacks, then proved he was no fluke as he accumulated 19.5 this season. Coming out of college, I thought Aldon Smith was a physical, yet athletic player. However, I thought he was too raw to take in the top 10. When I look at Oregon OLB Dion Jordan, I see another great, raw athlete. If you were to ask me two years ago if I'd take a player like Jordan in the first round I'd probably say, no. However, now that I've seen the product that Smith has become, it makes me wonder: if the Jaguars passed on Dion Jordan would he become the next Aldon Smith? Good question, right? Now, I'm not comparing Dion Jordan to Aldon Smith in terms of the player he'll become, but I do feel he has some traits that Smith does, traits which aided him in becoming the elite player he is today. Simply put, it's athleticism.
Jordan was initially brought to Oregon to be a TE back in 2009, however in 2010 he switched over to the defensive side of the ball to become a DE. The move proved to be one that was well worth it as Jordan was given All-Pac-12 team honors in both 2011 and 2012. When you look at Jordan on tape, the one thing you'll immediately notice about him is his length. He has very long arms and a wide wing-span. Aside from that he is a solid pass rusher with much to learn. Despite his 6-6 frame, he has shown the ability and has the athleticism to bend and rip through defenders when they are engaged with him.
His most unique attribute, however, is his coverage abilities. I've seen Oregon line him up many times on slot receivers and TE's since he's so athletic and has the speed to do so. He'd give whatever defense is fortunate to get him a lot of flexibility. Granted with the way Oregon likes to use him in their hybrid 3-4 style defense, we all know what he offers as a 3-4 OLB, but if he adds weight I think it's possible he can become a solid 4-3 DE as well. Alfie Crow of Bigcatcountry.com even thinks it's possible he can play SAM LB in a 4-3 as well and I agree with him.
As for the cons, he will definitely have to add weight to be a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 DE in the NFL. Seeing as he has a 6-6 frame, I don't see why he'd have trouble doing so. He's also going to need to get stronger to shed NFL lineman. I've seen multiple occasions where he'd let OT's engage with him and take him out of the play. As most young pass rushers, Jordan could afford to develop some more pass rushing moves as he often relies on speed to get him around the corner. He recently had surgery to repair a torn labrum which he suffered from in his bowl game against Kansas State. He is expected to make a full recovery but will miss Senior Bowl. Though it would have been a great opportunity for teams to evaluate him, it shouldn't be a huge deal as many players have skipped or missed the Senior Bowl and still find success. To my knowledge, he should be ready before NFL camps start. I'm sure the Jags will evaluate his situation closely (granted their history with injuries), and if all is well with Jordan he'll certainly be a prospect they're interested in regardless of what type of defensive scheme they'll run. Keep in mind they have reportedly been interested in Greg Roman, Vic Fangio, and Jim Tomsula who are currently coaches on the 49ers staff. I'd assume if one of them would become a head coach here, they'd want to use a 3-4 scheme. Since they know how crucial it is to have an elite pass rusher as they do in Aldon Smith, I could certainly see one of the guys taking Jordan if they were to become a head coach here.
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