Having witnessed a significant drop in sacks over the last two years, the Steelers may have both the necessity and the luxury of taking a high-end pass rusher with the 17th overall pick in the upcoming draft. Oregon's Dion Jordan oozes with potential, but still could find himself on the board when the Steelers are up.
In the Steelers two previous Super Bowl seasons, 2008 and 2010, they had 51 sacks - second and first in the NFL, respectively. They managed just 37 in 2012, which put them 15th overall. The inconsistent health and the play at the outside linebacker position were major factors in the lack of getting to the quarterback.
Oregon outside linebacker draft prospect Dion Jordan may just be that pass rusher. At a towering 6-foot-6 243 pounds, Jordan is not hard to find on tape. His amazing arm size is dwarfed only by his athleticism which has scouts and draft analyst enamored. A shoulder injury has dropped his stock some but if Jordan checks out medically at the Combine he could potentially be a top 15 pick in April.
Dion Jordan has lined up covering the slot, with his hand in the dirt and in a two point stance as a pass rusher. Jordan was recruited to Oregon to played the tight end position a position he played at Chandler Highschool in Arizona. In 2010 he converted to defensive end to better incorporate his rare athleticism. Along with his physical stature Dion Jordan has the long arms which are ideal for any successful pass rusher in the NFL. Like any good pass rusher Dion Jordan has a very quick first step. He has quick hands which he uses to keep him self clean and get to the QB. Jordan is quick enough to cover the a tight end and can be an interesting weapon on defense with his length in coverage. He was often asked to cover the slot at Oregon. The following plays highlight the elite attributes Dion Jordan possesses as a pass rusher.
Running the Arc
In this play we can see why draft experts are excited about Jordan's ability as a pass rusher. His jump off the line allows him get the outside edge on the tackle. He gets two steps before any of his teammates finish their first step. He initiates contact and begins to dip around the corner with a good executed rip move. Finally you can see what truely make Dion Jordan special his ability to turn the corner. As he turns the corner he has the ankle flexibility to turn back up field and get to the QB which is not an easy task. On tape Jordan also shows the ability to get low around the edge something many players of his size struggle with.
Jordan has some of the fastest hands in this draft class of pass rusher and he uses them well. In this play we see Dion Jordan's remarkable hand usage. Jordan execute a rip move to get to the QB. At times Jordan's hand placement can be inconsistent which can limit his effectiveness.
With Dion Jordan's height and 243 pound frame it isn't hard to understand why Dion Jordan is least effective against the run. He doesn't yet have the lower body strength to consistently hold the point of attack in the run game. His size makes it hard for him to get under the blocker and even when he can he loses most of his power. As a rusher he does have heavy hand and lack the power in his punch to knock the blocker off balance. Jordan also is too willing to take the outside route to the QB and needs to develop an inside move.
Against the Run
In this play we can see Jordan deficiencies in the run game. He is left unblocked at the line and has to take on the lead blocker one-on-one. While he does get underneath the block he does not have the lower body power to drive the blocker backwards. Jordan lacks the upper body strength in this play to keep the blocker away from his body and disengage from the blocker.
Dion Jordan clearly has the first step quickness and bend needed to rush the passer on the professional level. He has quick hands and a variety of outside moves at his disposal. Jordan also has plenty of experience in coverage where he uses his unique length to his advantage. While he is lacking the power his 6-foot-6 frame shows he has the potential to put on more weight and strength in a NFL strength program. Look for Jordan to contribute to a team as a pass rusher early then work his way on the field full time in his second year.