The biggest story from Miami Dolphins OTA’s for me wasn’t Bill Lazor and his hyped up Eagles-lite offensive changes, nor was it Ryan Tannehill’s perceived struggles running said offense.
It wasn’t Mike Pouncey being Mike Pouncey either, but instead it’s the continued development of defensive end Dion Jordan.
Jordan has been an enigma, at least that’s how his rookie season was described in this NFL.com article by Marc Sessler. Is he a defensive end, a linebacker or both?
We got our answer: Jordan is a defensive end, and has gained the weight to play the position, as he’s gone from being a lanky 248-pound tweener to being a 265-pound defensive end.
Will this translate on the field? I’m inclined to believe it will.
In the piece by Sessler, Jordan was described as a square peg in a round hole, with the implication being that he’s naturally a 3-4 outside linebacker, which ignores the simple fact that the Dolphins defensive front is much more flexible than it seems.
Being more flexible up front allows the Dolphins to play Jordan along side both Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon as their pass rushers.
Speaking of Vernon, he was the biggest obstacle towards Jordan getting playing time in 2013, and the biggest hope for Jordan getting playing time in 2014.
Vernon beat out Jordan for the second starting defensive end job last season, and rewarded the Dolphins for the decision by recording 11.5 sacks and 46 tackles. This came after a rookie season where Vernon only recorded 18 tackles and 3.5 sacks while primarily playing on special teams.
One reason for Vernon’s leap is defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers, who is now entering his second year coaching Jordan. Seeing as Jordan has a higher upside than Vernon, there’s no reason to believe the results won’t be similar.
Most importantly for Jordan this season is he won’t be entering training camp injured, a situation that he faced last season and could never adequately recover from.
Jordan commented on this to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, telling him: “This year I had the opportunity to have an offseason where I can take care of my body. I’m trying to move forward and continue to try to better myself in a few areas.”
Said improvement in conditioning can only help Jordan out, as would having the chance to work with Jason Taylor, who during OTAs has been working with the defensive line.
Defensive line has been one of the few true areas of strength for the Dolphins in the last decade, and Jordan will only add to that. Watch out for him in 2014, as he’s poised to make the leap.