Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 NFL Draft: Packers Select UCLA DE Datone Jones in the First Round

The Green Bay Packers have been needing a defensive lineman who can line up next to DE B.J. Raji on passing downs and rush the passer. They usually line up with only two down lineman in their nickel package, so it's impossible for them to generate an inside pass rush without two good pass rushing big men. They've been missing that type of player ever since DE Cullen Jenkins left in free agency. Hopefully they've found that player in UCLA's DE Datone Jones. Here's what I wrote about Jones earlier this week:
Jones isn't an obvious fit but he's versatile, played in three and four man fronts, and he can get after the quarterback. He might be a better fit as a 4-3 DE, but he's 6-4, 283 lbs. and might still be filling out. He was "extremely productive" as a senior and had a strong workout at the combine. If you can still remember the 1990s, he might be similar to former Packer DE Sean Jones. He could be what the Packers hoped DE Mike Neal would become.
After reading more about Jones, I think the Packers might have been the best fit for him, instead of a 4-3 defensive team. He won't anchor their strong side run defense, they have DE Ryan Pickett for that anyway, but he's big enough to play DE in their 3-4 scheme and he's good at getting into the backfield.

I've only read about two problems with him, and neither should be a problem for the Packers. While he's a little too small to play tackle in a 4-3 defense, and a little too big to play end in a 4-3, his size and height might be perfect as a three technique (lining up over the guard) lineman who they want to rush the passer.

The only concern here is that the Packers haven't done too well on their previous two attempts (DE Mike Neal in 2010, DE Jerel Worthy in 2012) to find a lineman like Jones. Maybe the third times the charm. Jones was the guy I hoped they would get, unless LSU's S Eric Reid fell to them (he went to the 49ers at No. 18 overall), so it's hard to complain with their selection.

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