Dion Jordan. Miami Dolphins defenisve end, possibly linebacker, Dion Jordan. The third overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, a pick in which Miami traded up to grab the top defensive player in the Draft. He was a player every coach on the team reportedly wanted, and he is a player who has yet to do anything really meaningful on the field since his selection.
And, you know what, that's okay.
I know it is frustrating to know the Dolphins selected Jordan that high, yet rarely see him on the field. I know we all want to see him terrorizing oppsing quarterback, or blanketing Rob Gronkowski down the field. I know it, because I want to see it too. Dion Jordan playing into his potential is a must for the Dolphins - but just because we have not seen it yet does not mean we will not see it. Just because we have not seen it yet does not make him a bust. Just because we have not seen it yet does not make Jordan a wasted pick.
Remember way back when - and by that I mean a few years ago - when it was okay for a player, even a first round draft choice, to sit for a couple of years? Remember when Philip Rivers made five total appearances in his first two seasons after being selected with the fourth overall pick? Remember when Aaron Rodgers sat on the bench for three years after being a first round selection? And those were quarterbacks selected in the first round.
Remember when draft picks were graded after three years in the league, not three days?
Jordan is going into his third year. He has had a bad start to his career, with a shoulder injury that did not seem to heal as expected to start his rookie year, then a six-game suspension to start this past season. Miami needs Jordan to come to training camp ready to play this year. Jordan needs to come to training camp ready to place this year, for himself at the very least.
That still does not mean Miami wasted a selection.
Part of why people complain about Jordan's lack of playing time is because he is stuck behind Olivier Vernon on the depth chart. Rather than being happy about the apparent glut of talent the team should have at defensive end as the team's 2012 third round pick flourishes, fans want to point to Vernon as the wall Jordan cannot scale.
The Dolphins coaching staff has failed to develop Jordan, as seen by his lack of playing time. Of course, we are totally ignoring the development they did with Vernon in the first place. Or the development of Koa Misi, first as an outside linebacker, then a middle linebacker. Or Lamar Miller from his unsuccessful 2013 campaign to being a 1,000-yard rusher in 2014. Or Reshad Jones. Or Mike Pouncey. Or Ja'Wuan James. Or Jared Odrick. Or any of the other players who have stepped up in recent years, or changed positions.
This coaching staff may not be perfect, but they may actually be developing players more than for which they are given credit.
The coaches need to decide how they want to use Jordan and his ahtletic freak of nature build. They need to make him a defensive end or a linebacker. They need to get him focused and bulid him into what he should be based on his potential. That does not mean they are not doing their jobs.
Should they have spent last offseason and preseason preparing Jordan to see massive playing time, knowing he would miss the first four - then six - games of the season? Or did they need to get him some reps, but know that the real development needed to be focused on the players who would not miss a significant potion of the year?
Dion Jordan is absolutely a frustrating case, and absolutely more should be expected of him. The fact that we have not seen it does not mean we will not see it. Maybe even as early as this year.