The Dolphins traded up to the third-overall pick in April’s draft in order to nab the 2013 class’ top defensive prospect, Dion Jordan.
It was an aggressive move to improve a pass rush that was productive but largely one dimensional in 2012. And finding another legitimate rusher to pair with All-Pro defensive end Cameron Wake projected to improve a pass defense that finished an abysmal 27th in the NFL last season.
Jordan could certainly still improve the Dolphins’ pass rush and overall pass defense this season, but how soon he’ll be able to do so is in doubt.
According to the Miami Herald, there is a growing concern within the organization that Jordan won’t be available for the team’s Week 1 matchup with the Cleveland Browns, as the rookie continues to rehab a re-injured shoulder he had operated on during the offseason. He won’t play Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his status for the Dolphins’ final preseason game is certainly in question as well.
Given all the reps Jordan has missed so far, he was never able to compete with second-year defensive end Oliver Vernon for the starting defensive end spot opposite Cameron Wake. But an extensive role on third downs as a pass-rushing specialist and stand-up chess piece, was still expected for the former Oregon Duck.
Now, it’s uncertain if he’ll be able to provide the Dolphins with that during the early portion of the regular season. If not, make no mistake about it, it would be a blow to Miami’s defense.
The Dolphins really do need another player to step up and consistently assist Cameron Wake in providing pressure. There’s some hope Oliver Vernon can do so in his second season, but the rookie Jordan has elite physical traits he’s already put on display in limited action.
He would make the Dolphins’ defense a better one in 2013. But the more time he misses, the more his ability to do so becomes in jeopardy.