(The opinions and analysis contained in this feature are those of the author and others credited and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of the Seahawks’ coaching staff and personnel department)
In the group of former University of Oregon players who will follow coach Chip Kelly to the NFL in 2013, Dion Jordan could be at the head of this follow-the-leader line.
Kelly, now the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, found a role to fit Jordan’s unique skill set the past two seasons with the Ducks. Now, it’s up to an NFL team to do the same in the April 25-27 NFL Draft.
“He’s got frightening athletic skills,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of the 6-foot-6½, 248-pound Jordon – who came to Oregon as a tight end, was moved to defense in 2010 and stepped into a hybrid role as a stand-up pass-rusher the past two seasons.
“But he’s a year away. He would be a situational pass-rusher year one and, if he puts 20 pounds on, I think he’s going to be a perennial All-Pro. I really like the kid.”
So much so, that Mayock says Jordan “is two years away from being an Aldon Smith-type player.”
And that is saying a lot, as Smith had 14 sacks as a rookie in 2011 after being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers and followed that with a 19.5-sack season for the NFC champions in 2012.
Here are some highlights of what Jordan had to say during his Q&A session with the media at the NFL Scouting Combine:
Q: Were you surprised when they moved you to defense at Oregon?
A: “Not at all. I understood that that was the best opportunity for me to get on the football field, so I took it. Coach Kelly and my position coach – coach (Jerry) Azzinaro – they had a plan for me and I stuck with it. And things worked out for the best for me.”
Q: But you never could have imagined that when you went to Oregon, right?
A: “Man, I imagined myself running down the field, catching the ball from Darron Thomas or (Marcus) Mariota. But things didn’t work out that way. You’ve got to adjust. I adjusted and I took the opportunity and ran with it.”
Q: So looking back you were probably a more natural defensive player to begin with?
A: “Yeah, I would rather do the hitting than get hit. It’s a lot better.”
Q: You did a lot while with the Ducks, what do you bring to the NFL?
A: “Pass rush. I feel like me lining up all over the field on defense shows my athleticism, shows that I understand the game and that I did a lot for the university. But my whole thing is getting after the quarterback, so pass rush would be my No. 1.”
Q: People refer to you as a different kind of athlete. What does that mean to you?
A: “I think it just shows that I have the ability to, I understand the game, I understand defenses because I played on the offensive side of the ball. I understand a lot of the offensive schemes also. So it plays to my abilities, just understanding a lot of little things and just my size – a 6-7 outside linebacker – is kind of unique, I feel like.”
Q: What is it like to practice against an offense with the tempo that Kelly used with the Ducks?
A: “It’s unique. As a defensive player, keeping up with guys like a Kenjon Barner, chasing him down the field; or LaMichael James, or even a DeAnthony Thomas. Those guys are very special. As a defensive player, being able to keep up with those guys Monday through Friday, when we get to the game on Saturday, it’s pretty easy for us as far as the game speed. I’m used to that type of tempo.”