Dolphins trade up to take pass rusher Dion Jordan
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins began the draft with the most picks of any team, and used two of them to select pass rusher Dion Jordan of Oregon.
General manager Jeff Ireland swung a trade Thursday night with Oakland to move up nine spots and take Jordan with the overall No. 3 pick.
The Dolphins needed a left tackle, and three of top four selections in the draft were tackles, but Ireland instead opted to upgrade a defense lacking in playmakers. Miami tied for fourth-worst in the league last year in takeaways.
“We took a player we coveted quite a bit,” Ireland said. “You’ve got to knock the quarterback down, you’ve got to take the ball away. This guy can do one of those two things.”
To acquire Jordan, Miami gave Oakland the No. 12 and No. 42 overall choices. The latter was the first of two picks the Dolphins had in the second round.
The Dolphins were surprised to get Jordan, who attended the draft in New York. He was caught off guard, too.
“I wasn’t expecting the trade to go down,” he said, “but I do feel like they made the right move.”
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Jordan, who can play defensive end or outside linebacker, has drawn comparisons to former Dolphin Jason Taylor.
“He was a tremendous player,” Jordan said, “but I want to come in and make my own statement.”
Jordan had 14½ sacks in 45 games as a speed rusher with Oregon, and in his senior year he had five sacks and forced three fumbles. He may initially be a pass-rush specialist with the Dolphins, but they anticipate he’ll eventually be an every-down end in their 4-3 scheme, Ireland said.
“He’s got a tremendous skill set that’s unique,” Ireland said.
The Dolphins, who began the draft with 11 picks, still need a replacement for left tackle Jake Long. The No. 1 overall choice in 2008 departed to St. Louis via free agency.
Trade talks cooled Thursday between the Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs, who have been shopping veteran tackle Branden Albert.
“We’re nowhere on that thing right now,” Ireland said.
Tackle will remain a priority Friday, when Miami still has one pick in the second round and two in the third.
Ireland, who needs some successful picks after a succession of spotty drafts, said Jordan has been on his radar for more than a year. Ireland said he talked with Oakland about a possible trade before the first round began, and called the Raiders when they were on the clock, but his initial offer was rejected.
Moments later, the Raiders called back and asked for the 12th and 42nd picks.
“I said, ‘Sure, we’ll do it,’” Ireland said. “I thought it was great value to get up there, based on the player we think he could be. We thought it was a big win for us.”
Owner Stephen Ross agreed, saying Jordan was a favorite of the coaching staff in discussions before the draft.
“Everybody thought, ‘Hey, we’ll never get him,’” Ross said. “When the Raiders called back, I think everybody in the room was shocked. It’s a great move. This is an impact player.”
Jordan wasn’t regarded a can’t-miss prospect, however, and wasn’t even an every-down player at Oregon. He missed playing time last season because of a right shoulder injury that required surgery in February.
Among the draft pundits questioning the Dolphins’ decision was ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, who described Jordan as a one-dimensional edge rusher.
“He’s a great athlete, but there are a lot of unknowns right now,” Gruden said. “I don’t see him running over tackles. I don’t see an inside move. He’s going to have to do more than just rush around the edge.”
The Dolphins, however, rave about Jordan’s versatility, upside and resilience. He overcame severe burns while a senior in high school to become a star at Oregon.
He’ll be paired in Miami with Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake, who ranked fourth in the NFL last year with 15 sacks.
“I feel like us two together, we can change up the tempo as far as pass rushing goes,” Jordan said.