The Miami Dolphins made a major splash on the first night of the NFL Draft. General manager Jeff Ireland traded the team's first-round pick (12th overall) and a second-rounder (42nd overall) to the Oakland Raiders for the 3rd pick in the draft, using it to select Dion Jordan from the University of Oregon.
Jordan, an OLB at Oregon, is expected to play defensive end in defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle's system. He amassed 44 tackles (10.5 for loss) and 5 sacks in his senior season at Oregon, despite being slowed by a torn labrum (which was surgically repaired in March). For his career, he had 14.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss.
Attending the draft in New York, Jordan said he was surprised by the pick.
"The trade, I wasn't expecting that," he said. "I'm surprised and very blessed and ready to go to work."
Jordan is a tall and lean pass rusher, standing at 6 feet 6 inches and weighing 248 pounds. He impressed scouts at the NFL Combine by running a 4.6 second 40-yard dash and weighing in 30 pounds above his playing weight at Oregon (where head coach Chip Kelly preferred smaller, quicker pass rushers).
Though the third pick in the draft is normally expected to start right away, Jordan could be used initially as a pass-rush specialist on third downs opposite Pro Bowl DE Cameron Wake. A best-case scenario would be Jordan ending up like former Dolphin great Jason Taylor or current San Francisco 49er Aldon Smith - a very athletic pass rusher who wreaks havoc in the backfield.
The move to draft Jordan was surprising, as draft experts expected the Dolphins to use the 12th pick on an offensive lineman or defensive backs, two major areas of need.
Miami still could get an offensive lineman. The team has been negotiating with the Kansas City Chiefs for days regarding LT Branden Albert. Kansas City selected Central Michigan LT Eric Fisher with the first pick in the draft, suggesting Albert's tenure with the Chiefs is about to end.
Ireland has become much more aggressive in the draft after being accused of picking too conservatively in the past.
Ireland used the 8th pick in last year's draft to select QB Ryan Tannehill far earlier than most draft experts felt he deserved. But that pales in comparison to tonight, moving up 9 spots in the first round at a relatively low cost (using one of the two second round picks the team held along with its first-round pick).
Shortly after he was drafted, Jordan tweeted, "Run down that dream with @MiamiDolphins! Tell me what it means to wear the aqua and coral."
The Dolphins will make their next selection in the second round, with the 54th pick overall. The second and third rounds of the draft will be held on Friday night.