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Dolphins debate: Dion Jordan a defensive end or a linebacker?

The Miami Dolphins traded up to the third overall pick in last year's NFL Draft to select Dion Jordan. However, Jordan saw the field in limited action last year, and enters this offseason as a player who may not have a defined role on the team.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Is he a defensive end or linebacker?  It's a pretty straight forward question without a clear answer when it comes to the Miami Dolphins' 2013 first round draft pick Dion Jordan.  Should they put him on the defensive line, with his hand in the dirt, and let him get after the quarterback or should he be lined up with line linebackers, able to pass rush, but also able to drop into coverage on tight ends or running backs?

Where should Dion Jordan play?

It's a question that Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle will spend this offseason trying to answer.  And, the team may enter the 2014 season without a defined role for the player they aggressively acquired last year.

According to a Barry Jackson report in the Miami Herald today, the Dolphins had intended on seeing more of Jordan last year, but injuries and the surprise emergence of Olivier Vernon changed some of those plans. Part of the problem was Jordan, who the coaches want to see add muscle this offseason, increase his ability against the run, and refine his pass rush moves, but  also the players in front of him on the depth chart: Vernon at defensive end and Koa Misi at linebacker.

"When we drafted Jordan, nobody expected Olivier Vernon to develop like he did," a Dolphins source told Jackson. "My concern is [Jordan] will have struggles playing against bigger tackles. If you play him at linebacker, he has far more range and speed and explosiveness than Misi. But Koa is more consistent and steady. Jordan gives you great flexibility because he can cover and rush the passer. This is a huge offseason for him."

Jordan could enter 2014  still holding on to a situational role, given the level of play of Vernon and the run support consistency of Misi.  A lot will be decided this offseason, as Jordan works to better himself for his second NFL season.  However, a decision will have to be made - is Jordan a defensive end or a linebacker?