Dion Jordan is built like Udonis Haslem. He wants to play like Lawrence Taylor.
Jordan, the Miami Dolphins’ latest first-round selection, arrived in Miami to great fanfare Saturday. Flashbulbs, his general manager and a lucky season-ticket holder were among those welcoming him to town.
But with a passing glance, one could easily confuse Jordan with an NBA small forward and not a budding NFL defensive lineman.
He stands more than 6-foot-6, but weighs a mere 250 pounds. There’s a reason one of his coaches at Oregon nicknamed him the “Preying Mantis.” He’s all arms and legs.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“For me personally, improving my weight and my strength is an area that I’m looking forward to getting better at,” Jordan said in his first South Florida media availability.
“I feel like I can play with the same speed and the same motor right around 260 [pounds],” Jordan added. “I know it’s something that I have to do personally. I’m going to take care of that and get ready for the season.”
A SHOULDER TO MEND
Jordan’s to-do list is filling up. Moving to South Florida is high on it. But item No. 1 is rehabbing his repaired shoulder.
Jordan is less than two months removed from labrum surgery. When not in Miami for spring practices in the coming months, he’ll be in Los Angeles getting healthy.
If his mending, skinny body ever catches up to his raw physical ability, Jordan could be a bona fide star. He runs a 4.5-second 40, is athletic enough to drop into coverage, and even ran down kickoffs all four years at Oregon.
But he was the draft’s No. 3 pick one reason above all others: To get after the quarterback. Together, Jordan and Cameron Wake will attack the edges in a 1-2 punch intended to level Tom Brady, again and again.
“Watching a guy like him for awhile, seeing his talent and understanding how [good] he is at doing his job of getting after the quarterbacks, it just motivates me that much more to step my game up,” Jordan said of Wake.
Lawrence Taylor, arguably the most dangerous pass-rusher in NFL history, is another hero.
As Taylor did with the Giants, Jordan played strong-side linebacker at Oregon. The Dolphins have been non-committal whether Jordan will stand up or play with a hand in his dirt as a pro.
“I do feel like I have a high motor,” Jordan said. “I work really hard, not just when it’s game time but every day leading up. So when the lights come on and when it’s game time I turn it on, and like I said I am looking forward to improving in that area and being a great complement to him on the other side.”
But first, he needs some sleep. The past week has been a blur.
A LONG WEEK
It began with pre-draft commitments in New York City, including a visit to the Stock Exchange and a local hospital. Then came draft night, when commissioner Roger Goodell called his name third (the Dolphins traded up from 12 to get him), with the dizzying media crush that comes with such a selection.
Then he hopped a flight to South Florida, and dined with his new position coach in Fort Lauderdale on Friday night before Saturday’s press availability. Jordan will be back in to town for next weekend’s rookie camp, and intends to participate, even with the injury.
In the meantime, he’ll spend some time with his family back in Phoenix. Amazingly, he might not be the most athletic person at the dinner table.
Younger sister Sherrelle Jordan runs the 100-meter hurdles, and just last month, posted the third-fastest time in Arizona history in the event.
Dion Jordan also ran track as a kid, and played basketball too. But he gave up hoops to focus on football, and came into his own at Oregon.
In Miami, the expectations ramp up even more. While Jordan fielded questions from the South Florida media Saturday, his new boss – owner Stephen Ross – listened from the back of the room.
“I don’t feel pressure at all,” Jordan insisted. “When it all boils down to it, it’s about what you do on the field and, me and the rest of the rookies and whoever gets here, we all understand that.
“That’s all that matters and that’s what I’m going to take care of. I’m going to take care of what I have to do as a player.”