Mike O'Hara says the Lions' need for a pass rusher screams "draft me"

Posted Feb 23, 2013

Oregon's Dion Jordan one of many solid prospects at the defensive end position coming out for this year's NFL Draft

Dion JordanINDIANAPOLIS – Dion Jordan is a special athlete, with skills and a body type that sets him apart from most pass-rushers in this year's draft.

Oregon Coach Chip Kelly tailored Jordan's height, reach, speed and all-around ability to suit his defense.

Oregon's flashy, high-octane offense deserves most of the credit for the Ducks' 12-1 record and near-miss on qualifying for the BCS national championship game, but the defense and Jordan did their part.

Jordan had 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles in 2012. His multiple talents were most evident in a win at Arizona State, when he lined up as a stand-up defensive end, inside linebacker and in the slot covering receivers. He had two sacks and two tackles for loss in that game.

At almost 6-7 and his college playing weight of 240 pounds, playing in the slot demonstrated Jordan's rare athletic ability.

Jordan appears best suited to be an outside linebacker/defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Wherever he lines up, and in whatever system, Jordan uses two words to define his specialty.

"Pass rush," he said. "I feel like me lining up all over the field on defenses shows my athleticism, shows I understand the game. My whole thing is getting after the quarterback. So pass rush would be No. 1."

The NFL puts a premium on pass rushers, both in free agency and in the draft, and there will be a deep pool of both this year.

Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew said Friday that the Lions need help "everywhere" on defense. A pass-rushing end is likely to be their top priority, and this is a good year to fill that need.

"There are a lot of defensive ends in the draft and free agency," Mayhew said. "There's a ton of talent in pass rushers."

Jordan has been a top-10 prospect in some mock drafts, but none have him going as high as No. 5 – where the Lions pick in the first round.

Jordan is an intriguing prospect because of his size – almost 6-7 and 248 pounds with long arms, speed and quickness. His size allows him to cover a lot of ground and space.

Jordan showed his competitive nature by delaying surgery until next week to repair a torn labrum. He was injured during the season making an arm tackle. Jordan wanted to compete in the Combine before having the surgery. He'll do everything here except the bench press.

"I made a tackle the wrong way," Jordan said. "You shouldn't arm tackle. I got the worst of it. I dealt with it. I only missed one game. It shows my toughness.

"Give me about three or four months as far as my rehab. I'm going to attack my rehab after surgery as hard as I did before, just to make sure I'm able to show up to camp and compete with the other guys."

His first competition will be where he stacks up in the draft.

Here are factors relating to the Lions regarding pass rushers in the April Draft:

Jarvis Jones: The outside linebacker from Georgia is a top-five prospect, but a physical condition clouds his future. He had to leave Southern Cal after his freshman season when the school's medical staff would not clear him to continue playing because of spinal stenosis.

The condition is a narrowing in the spinal canal, and it can lead to paralysis.

Jones transferred to Georgia and played the last two seasons. He was a standout pass rusher and rated by far the best pure outside linebacker in the draft. Some project him as a defensive end because of his pass-rush skills.

Jones is not participating in any Combine drills because of injuries not related to the spinal stenosis. He said Saturday that teams have put him through a battery of tests. How many?

"I've been here since eight o'clock this morning, so you get the picture," said Jones during an interview that ended at 5:15 p.m.

He has had no symptoms in his two seasons at Georgia and is not concerned about being injured.

Talent pool: Opinions are divided on who ranks as the top defensive end, but most analysts rank Bjoern Werner of Florida State and Damontre Moore of Texas A&M as the top two prospects.

The most intriguing prospect might be Ziggy Ansah of Brigham Young. He was born in Ghana and tried out for basketball at BYU before switching to football. He has limited football experience, but he stood out in the Senior Bowl.

Barkevius Mingo of LSU, Alex Okafor of Texas, Datone Jones of UCLA and Jordan round out the first-round prospects.

Of the seven, only Jones (280) and Ansah (274) weigh more than 261 pounds.

Lions' status: Their need for an influx at defensive end hardly could be more extreme. It screams "sign me" in free agency and "draft me" in the draft.

Technically, the Lions have only one defensive end under contract who was on the 2012 53-player roster. That's Ronnell Lewis, a fourth-round draft pick who played one snap on defense as a rookie in 2012.

Kyle Vanden Bosch was released on Feb. 4. Lawrence Jackson and Cliff Avril are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on March 12. Willie Young is a restricted free agent who had a disappointing third season in 2012.