Hello Green Bay, My Name Is Datone
The Green Bay Packers may have gotten a steal by drafting UCLA’s Datone Jones with the 26th overall pick in last week’s NFL Draft. While many expected general manager Ted Thompson to trade out of the first round, as he did in the second, the Packers couldn't resist drafting the highly rated defensive end.
Jones’ measurables give the Packers' defensive line a physical presence that they haven’t had since the days of Reggie White. At 6-4, 283 pounds, Jones stands as Green Bay’s tallest defensive lineman who is versatile enough to shift inside in run situations.
The fifth-year senior had 5.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss at UCLA last season. During the NFL Combine, Jones ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.8 seconds. Even more telling, his 20-yard shuttle time of 4.32 seconds was tops at his position. According to the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, Jones was the only player to beat first-overall pick Eric Fischer one-on-one during practice for the Senior Bowl.
"If you're drawing up a defensive end, you'd like to have a guy with his kind of height and length,” said defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
Jones will be relied on to seal the edge against the run and wreak havoc in the passing game. Jones is quick enough chase down quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and versatile enough to line up as an inside tackle in short-yardage situations. He should provide the perfect complement to the powerful and disruptive presence of nose tackle B.J. Raji, who is in the final year of his contract. Right end Ryan Pickett is also in the final year of his contract.
In addition, Jones’ speed and physical presence will create even more space and opportunity for Clay Matthews to pressure the quarterback. Last season, Green Bay finished fourth in the league with 47 sacks, but could eclipse that number if Jones lives up to the hype.
The Packers defense allowed 4.5 yards per carry, sixth most in the NFL last season. Jones, who has a relentless motor and quick burst off the line, should have an immediate impact in the run game. It’d come as a major surprise if Jones didn’t win the starting job over C.J. Wilson, Mike Neal and Jerel Worthy in training camp.
Jones, who was the fourth defensive end selected in the first round, could end up being the most productive rookie because he’s entering the ideal defensive scheme for his skillset and size.
Stay tuned for analysis of the rest of the Packers draft throughout the week.