Last April, the Miami Dolphins selected Oregon pass rusher Dion Jordan with the third pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Just over a year later, the question bears asking: is the 24-year-old defensive end already a bust?
Jordan was suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances Thursday. For most players, this would be a disappointing slip up, but already at this stage in his career, this is another negative mark in a long line of them since entering the league.
Jordan needed to ready and able to play when the season got underway this September. His rookie campaign was underwhelming and uninspiring, as he played just 339 snaps on defense primarily as a sub-package player. He could not overtake Olivier Vernon for the starting role opposite veteran Cameron Wake, and then he could not earn more playing time throughout the season.
He capped the year with just two sacks, a far cry from the potential many NFL scouts saw in him heading into the 2013 draft.
However, he entered OTAs this spring with promise. Or so the Dolphins hoped.
Jason Taylor commented on how great Jordan looked and called him a “sponge” in terms of his ability to learn and develop. He also noted Jordan was bigger and faster than the former Dolphin ever was.
I guess now we know why.
Jordan’s four-game suspension creates a steep road to climb. If the second-year player wished to earn more playing time this season, he was going to have to outperform Vernon on the gridiron. While he will be available for training camp and the preseason, the Dolphins would be foolish to invest too much in him knowing they will be without him for the first quarter of the season.
The first year-plus of Jordan’s NFL career has not been particularly memorable. His suspension will only make it worse. In a league which has always been more about “what have you done for me lately?” and less about potential as time goes on, the clock could be readying to expire on the first-round pick’s stock as a professional football player.
As a result, Jordan will need to work harder this summer. Harder than he already had been. To prove he has something to offer and provide a glimpse of what he will bring to the table when he is able to return for the Dolphins’ Week 6 matchup with the Green Bay Packers.
NFL teams were so high on him coming out of college, but time may be running out for the troubled youngster to prove he was worth all the hype. It may seem a little ridiculous, but 2014 could be a make-or-break year for Jordan in a Dolphins uniform, especially if Vernon has another big year playing in the role that was supposed to be his.