OLB Tale Of The Tape: Jordan vs. Jones
By Bill Lund
When comparing Oregon's Dion Jordan and Georgia's Jarvis Jones, the top outside linebacker prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft, you have to consider at the five most important characteristics that scouts look for at that position:
• Physical Attributes (size, speed, strength, balance, agility)
• Pass Rush (feet, use of hands)
• Run Defense (Point of attack, strength vs. blockers)
• Pass Drops (ability to break down in space, pass recognition)
• Tackling (ability to finish)
Jones: At 6-foot-2, 245, pounds, he possesses decent size for an OLB. He has decent arm length (33 inches). Had a poor Pro Day in terms of measureables: 40-yard dash (4.92 seconds), Vertical Jump (30.5 inches), Broad Jump (111 inches) and Bench Press (20 reps). His strength is in his tenacity and motor. Has great snap anticipation which helps him as a rusher.
Jordan: At 6-6, 248 pounds, he has the prototypical size NFL teams want in a top-of-the-first round OLB. He also has a tremendous reach (33 7/8 inches). Made scouts take notice with his Combine numbers: 40 time (4.60), Vertical Jump (32.5), Broad Jump (122.0 inches), Shuttle (4.35). He was smooth and effortless in his position drills at the Combine.
Advantage: Jordan has the numbers and the explosion that merit high first-round consideration. He increased his stock with a great Combine, whereas Jones chose to wait until his Pro Day rather than answer questions of his spinal stenosis. Jordan's length and athletic ability gives him a significantly greater ceiling than Jarvis Jones.
Jones: Shows a tremendous burst at the snap, along with his snap anticipation, making him highly productive. His speed rush is his go-to move. Many of his sacks came beating an offensive tackle off the line or from effort when a quarterback was unable to find an open receiver. Showns the ability to transition to a power rush; he needs to develop some other pass rush moves to counter the higher level of play. Doesn’t possess a natural lean to turn the corner on pass rush. At times, if the QB is not in his direct line of sight or if he's blocked out of the play, he will coast.
Jordan: Great burst at the snap, has a natural lean and can dip under blockers on the edge (check out video from the Fresno State game). Does a good job using his reach vs. OTs. Can transition into power rush. Aggressive rusher with tremendous effort. Can get knocked off line by stronger blockers at times. Naturally reacts to blockers and can adjust. Needs to develop in reading pass sets by tackles.
Advantage: Even. Jones is a bit of an enigma in this regard. Had productive sack numbers but will it translate into NFL sacks? He lacks elite speed and doesn’t possess any established moves. Jordan doesn’t have Jones’ sack numbers but that is in large part to his versatility and being utilized in coverage as much as a rusher. Jordan displays tremendous athleticism and a greater motor. He has a greater ceiling to become an elite rusher.
Jones: Is a better blitzer/penetrator in run defense. Had trouble at the point of attack, and against Alabama and Florida, he was knocked around against the run. He gets engulfed by blockers, does not disengage very well. Tends to stop his feet on contact on kick out blocks, and doesn’t explode his hips.
Jordan: Has decent strength at the point of attack. Uses arm extension well when he gets hand placement. Was solid vs. Stanford on the edge. Is aggressive and has a great mindset against the run. Does a good job of setting the edge on outside plays. Very good in the open field for a player his size. He is a pile tipper and has the ability to run plays down from the backside. Against the zone read, he has the ability to stay square and make a play (again, look for this in the Fresno State game).
Advantage: Jordan. He is a more aggressive player and the better athlete in the open field. A rare athlete that has great versatility. Will need to develop some lower body strength and bulk.
Jones: Was relied on more as a pass rusher. Not natural as a pass dropper. Did not find routes very well in space. Does not take great angles in space.
Jordan: Very versatile in coverage. In his game against Washington State, aligned in the slot, on the X and in a 3-point stance. Showed the ability to run with slot receivers. Displays a natural feel in coverage zones. Takes good angles and can make plays in space.
Advantage: Jordan. The ability to play on a slot or X receiver is a testament to his versatility and a quality a lot of NFL teams seek. Shows a great ability to close the distance on pass breaks.
Jones: Though Jones has been productive, his tackling ability is inconsistent. Has a knack for stripping the football, but seems to fall into more plays than he makes. He is an inconsistent finisher on tackles, tends to go for the “kill shot” and does not wrap; had misses in both Vanderbilt and Missouri games that a player of his caliber should have made. On a lot of his tackles, he is dragged for extra yardage.
Jordan: Has a good feel for angles in space. Runs his feet on contact more consistently. Looks to finish plays with more aggressiveness. Loves to play to the echo of the whistle, knocking back piles.
Advantage: Even. Jones has a knack for making plays and that cannot be overlooked. More consistency on his part would go a long way to being more productive. Jordan has shown a great ability to make tackles in the open field, and also has shown the ability to knock balls loose.
Dion Jordan. He has a greater range of versatility than Jones. Jones was most productive when utilized strictly a rusher and a limited dropper. Jones could be a productive 3-4 OLB, much like LaMarr Woodley for the Steelers. His best fit may be as a Sam LB in a 4-3 defense and utilized as a third-down rusher off the edge. Jones has better production numbers, but that’s not to say Jordan was not productive; the versatility Jordan displays in multiple positions limited the opportunities for sacks. If you watch Jordan vs. Stanford, Arizona State and Oregon State, you see his versatility in action as a dropper, rusher, as well as playing short yardage from a 3-point stance to a blitzer from the corner position. In the Washington State game, you see Jordan covering kicks and working on the punt team. Being a versatile player requires a level of football intelligence, it’s hard to ask a player to know the various responsibilities of different positions at the college level. Jordan was productive across multiple positions and would be a player that can be creatively utilized in a 3-4 defense in the NFL.