Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan believes he displayed his toughness last season, when he played five games with a shoulder injury that requires surgery.
But there is still much to prove for the standout pass rusher, who totaled 29 sacks in the past three seasons.
Jordan gave a glimpse of his athleticism Monday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder tied for third in his position group in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.6 seconds and tied for fourth in the broad jump with a leap of 10 feet, 2 inches.
Jordan will undergo surgery on the labrum in his right shoulder as soon as he leaves Indianapolis.
He said the procedure will be done at the Kerlan-Jobe center in Los Angeles and expects rehab to last between three and four months.
Projected as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, Jordan is among the players the Cleveland Browns could consider with the sixth overall pick.
Some draft analysts question whether Jordan can add the muscle he will need to play in the NFL and wonder if his injury was the reason why he couldn't gain weight.
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network suspects so but compared Jordan to San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith, a 2012 Pro Bowler who has 33.5 sacks in his two years in the league.
"Dion Jordan has had trouble in keeping weight on and part of the problem has been that shoulder," Mayock said Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. "So if you want to like Dion Jordan, and I do — Dion Jordan could be an Aldon Smith-type of defensive player — but he has to put on 20 pounds. To do that, he has to get the shoulder right."
Jordan said he believes he has the frame to add weight.
"Strength is key," he said. "I feel like it plays a lot into the longevity of playing in the NFL. It's a big-boy game."
Former Browns General Manager Phil Savage, now executive director of the Senior Bowl, wonders if Jordan can make the transition to outside linebacker.
"He's an unusual player because he's really tall," Savage said. "They used him in space a lot this year in their 3-4. He would walk out in coverage and he did not rush every single snap. He's more of a fluid athlete than an explosive power pass rusher.
"I think he's got to answer some questions in terms of really making the transition. Is he an outside 'backer or does he go and gain more weight and become a defensive end in the 4-3? I think that's the question that teams are going to be asking themselves."
Jordan came to Oregon in 2008 as a tight end but was switched to defense in the spring of 2010. He said he didn't complain, figuring it was the quickest way to get playing time. Now he considers it an advantage.
"I understand defenses because I played on the offensive side of the ball, I understand a lot of the offensive schemes," he said. "And my size, a (6-6) outside linebacker is kind of unique. Things worked out for the best for me. I would rather do the hitting than get hit."