Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero: Dion Jordan a cautionary tale for talent-hungry NFL teams

Dion Jordan stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they hold up a jersey on stage after he was picked #3 overall by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City.
Dion Jordan stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they hold up a jersey on stage after he was picked #3 overall by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City. Getty Images

Dion Jordan, whose disappointing NFL résumé now includes three drug suspensions to go with his three career sacks, should be a cautionary tale for the Miami Dolphins when they’re on the clock again and again during the coming NFL Draft.

Jordan’s fall from highly drafted player to complete bust begs the local team to recognize it truly is gambling every time it brings a new member into the family.

And so, starting with Thursday evening’s first round, the Dolphins would be smart to bypass the players with obvious red flags because sometimes the players with no obvious issues are trouble enough.

Jordan comes from a family with a history of addiction. His mom once described herself as a “functional” crack cocaine addict. But Jordan didn’t come to the Dolphins with multiple failed tests in college or a known horrible addiction.

He came to the Dolphins at 6-6 and 250 pounds with high expectations. His college tape caused one club source to gush about his talent and potential, and a comparison to Dolphins great Jason Taylor soon followed.

But Jordan will never reach those heights in Miami. Instead he will be more known for getting high in Miami.

And if that’s the sad case with a player whose history didn’t scream trouble, why gamble on a player whose history suggests a dim future?

That’s why the Dolphins should avoid players with problematic histories. Players such as Dorial Green-Beckham, Randy Gregory or Shane Ray titillate with great size and speed and prowess.

But picking them is begging the smoke of their past troubles to become your fire.

I recognize this sounds cautious, perhaps overly so. I know it is a conservative approach in a business where most general managers I’ve talked to would probably draft Satan if they thought they could manage his small issue with unspeakable evil.

But a safe approach is not necessarily a bad approach.

Walking away from a player with a troubled past exacts a price. Putting talent off the board for character issues would mean fake Dolphins general manager Salguero would have missed out on Dez Bryant, Marshawn Lynch, Brandon Marshall and others.

But taking that walk away from those obvious trouble signs would have also avoided Aaron Hernandez, Justin Blackmon, Lawrence Phillips, Johnny Manziel and others.

The point is the NFL Draft has a way of dealing teams equal parts trash and treasure even under optimal circumstances without a general manager going out and increasing his odds of failure.

So don’t do it.

Let that troubled college player be someone else’s star. Or headache.

The Dolphins say they keep high standards for the people they draft.

“Our emphasis on character has not changed,” general manager Dennis Hickey said. “In all of the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve always placed a strong emphasis and relied on our scouts and the interactions we have with these young men, hearing their stories, what shaped their lives. That’s always been an emphasis. But again, we judge each player, each prospect on an individual basis.”

Two players the Dolphins have judged to offer both talent and high character in this draft?

One is Todd Gurley, the Georgia running back whose big talent is matched by his high character, according to sources. The other is Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley, who I’m told is as solid a citizen as anyone would want on a football team. And he happens to be 6-2 and runs a 4.35 dash in the 40.

The Dolphins love both men because they are good players and good people.

What a draft this might be if the team could land them both.

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