Head coach Chip Kelly‘s all-time favorite player at the University of Oregon was Dion Jordan. Kelly openly gushed about Jordan having a special place in his heart during the 2013 offseason, and those sentiments are not easily changed. Former Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland also publicly gushed about Jordan went he selected the edge rusher No. 3 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. Most top-five picks are expected to open the season in the starting lineup, but Dion Jordan played just over 25 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in 2013, primarily as a situational pass rusher.
With a track record for making bad draft picks, the Jordan debacle likely contributed to Ireland’s recent firing.In fairness, Jordan was projected to be a top-five draft pick by most NFL Draft experts. Measuring 6-foot-6 and weighing 250 pounds, he possess ideal size for an NFL-caliber edge rusher. A former tight end, Jordan possesses a rare combination of length, athletic ability and versatility. Despite inconsistent production at Oregon, the speed and fluidity he demonstrated at the NFL Combine rocketed him up every team’s draft board.
Even with a rare combination of size and speed, it will be difficult for Jordan to crack the Dolphins’ starting lineup in 2014. Right end Olivier Vernon and left end Cameron Wake are entrenched on either side of the line, and Koa Misi has established a consistent, veteran presence on a team in desperate need of locker room leadership.
While the depth chart seems to be conspiring against Jordan, Miami’s defensive scheme also presents a challenge. At Oregon, he was an edge rusher in the 3-4 defensive scheme. Specifically, he played the hybrid “elephant backer” role that is part defensive end and part outside linebacker. Primarily rushing the passer, but also dipping into coverage, the elephant backer is a critical component of all successful 3-4 systems. Unfortunately, the Dolphins run a 4-3 defense and have recently characterized Jordan as a “tweener” without a natural position in their scheme. The team has also been unwilling to change their scheme to accommodate Jordan’s skill set.
While Jordan is a mismatch for the Miami Dolphins, he is a perfect fit for the Philadelphia Eagles. As a member of the Eagles, Jordan would profile as a bigger, stronger, faster Trent Cole.
Once reported to be in decline, Pro Football Focus actually graded Cole No. 7 overall and No. 2 against the run amongst 3-4 defensive ends in 2013. Turning 32 years old next season, Cole would be the perfect veteran player to groom Jordan. Under Cole’s tutelage, Jordan could reset his career and ease his way into the starting lineup as he adds muscle mass and refines his pass rush moves in the years ahead.
It appears the Eagles and Dolphins are perfect trade partners. For a blockbuster deal to happen, however, someone must facilitate the conversation. That is where current Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor comes in. As a former member of Kelly’s coaching staff, Lazor can leverage relationships with both front offices to start up a back channel conversation between Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey about Jordan’s availability.
A new GM’s first order of business is jettisoning high-priced, underperforming players who do not fit his team’s scheme. Moreover, Hickey may be open to dealing Jordan to signal a fresh start to the Dolphin’s fan base and put his stamp on the team’s roster. Early round draft picks are rarely traded in the NFL, but trading Dion Jordan to the Eagles make a lot of sense. Miami and Philadelphia have the good will and the front office connections to make it happen.