Friday morning featured the announcement from the NFL that the Miami Dolphins’ Dion Jordan was being conditionally reinstated, ending a 15-month suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Jordan is cleared to return to the team for training camp and, as long as he meets certain requirements for treatment, he will be allowed to participate in preseason games, as well as into the regular season. The question now, however, is where should Dion Jordan play?
Miami’s third-overall draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft has always been listed as a defensive end, and he has said he sees himself as a defensive end. The team has used him in coverage on tight ends and wide receivers, however, playing him more as a linebacker at times, and he has shown he can stay with players like Rob Gronkowski and Calvin Johnson. Jordan, assuming he comes back to the team in shape and ready to resume an NFL career that has barely had a chance to start, could be asked to be a linebacker, rather than a defensive end, and it is a move that really seems to make sense.
In June, we asked this exact question to our readers, and they overwhelmingly want to see Jordan as a linebacker, rather than defensive end:
Miami can use Jordan - if he is the player they jumped up to pick.. Jordan can be a pass rusher. He can be a linebacker. He could be both if he worked hard - or actually worked at all. Jordan has talent and potential, but a player cannot live on pure talent and potential in the NFL. He really cannot live on it when drug-related suspensions begin adding up.
The Dolphins have a lot of depth at defensive end right now, with Cameron Wake, Mario Williams, Andre Branch, Jason Jones, Terrence Fede, and Chris McCain all looking for playing time. At linebacker, they are thin, and an infusion of a talented player - a player that has the skill set Jordan has flashed a few times - could be critical this season. The move of Jordan to linebacker makes sense on many levels, and, it is one the Dolphins saw in 2014. Jordan has one career start in the NFL, coming in that year's season finale when he started at strong side linebacker.
Jordan has to come in and prove himself to a new coaching staff that has no ties to him other than the jersey he will wear. He has to prove he loves the game. He has to prove to the analysts and fans that he is ready to be an NFL player again. He has to prove that he is in shape, willing to work, and wants to be in Miami.
The coaches have to prove they can find a way to use the talent Jordan has and maximize what he can be. The best way to do that may be at linebacker.