The Miami Dolphins have been adamant that 2013 third overall draft selection Dion Jordan is a defensive end who, at times, can be used in other roles. That stance may be changing, however, as it now appears the Dolphins will consider moving Jordan to linebacker for the 2015 season.
Jordan is a "tweener," able to play either defensive end or linebacker, but not being the "ideal" size for either. He also has had a problem with missing time in practice and games. As a rookie, Jordan was prevented from joining the Dolphins until training camp due to Oregon being on the quarters system (NFL rules prohibit a player from joining their team until their current academic term has been completed). Once he did report, the shoulder surgery he had to repair a torn labrum seemed to take longer than expected to rehab. He ultimately played in all 16 games for Miami, but was primarily a special teams contributor and a reserve defensive end, in large part because of the missed practice time in training camp.
This season, Jordan was able to participate in all of camp, but was suspended for the first six games of the season on two separate drug -policy violations. He returned to the defense, and has played more snaps per game this year than last, but he is again relegated to mostly a special teams and reserve defensive end role.
On Sunday, Jordan started to move around more on the defense. He took snaps at defensive end, defensive tackle, and linebacker, working to rush the passer as well as dropping back into pass coverage.
During his Monday press conference, Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was asked about possibility of Jordan having a more expanded role as a linebacker next season. "It's a good question," Coyle replied. "We're going to evaluate everything here as we go into the offseason. That's certainly going to be one of the main topics. We have got to find ways to utilize him more."
Coyle went on to point to the missed practice and game time for Jordan, both as a rookie and this year, as a part of why he has not had as big a role in the defense as desired from a player selected third overall - a pick Miami traded up to obtain. "There were some extenuating circumstances both last year, him coming in having a shoulder issue and then again this year with the suspension and so forth," Coyle explained. "We have got to get him in the right spot and we're going to evaluate that real closely and we'll see what we determine to be the best fit for him. He has the athleticism to do a lot of things, I think you saw that yesterday when he dropped in coverage and made a nice open field tackle. He rushed the passer yesterday, impacted some things. I think we certainly need to get him on the field more."
The news that Miami is looking to find ways to get Jordan more involved in the defense, and considering moving him to linebacker, will excite a lot of fans. Jordan has proven he has the ability to cover players like New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski on passing routes, and he has a unique athleticism that could be used to cause pass rushing mismatches, especially with defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon on the field at the same time. The fit may not be perfect for Jordan at linebacker, but it may be the best fit, and the best way for Miami to get him on the field.