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Datone Jones an Enigma as 3-4 Defensive Line Prospect

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Datone Jones an Enigma as 3-4 Defensive Line Prospect

UCLA defensive lineman Datone Jones. Photo by Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.

This profile was originally published on April 21, 2013

As someone who, in all likelihood, will be selected somewhere from the middle to late in the first round of the NFL Draft, there's been a high amount of speculation connecting UCLA defensive lineman Datone Jones and the Green Bay Packers.

How exactly Jones would fit into Dom Capers' 3-4 defensive system is similarly under speculation in the world of social media.

Conjecture ranges from the next coming of J.J. Watt to being woefully underweight at a position where he'll be asked to hold the point of attack.

Jones weighed in at 283 lbs. at the NFL Combine in February, and it appears as if he'll hold off on adding any bulk to his body until it becomes official which team selects him and what they expect.

"It depends on where a team needs me to be," said Jones at the Combine. "I can’t really judge it. My starting point is 284."

Measuring in at 6-4, Jones possesses a length that's in short supply on the Green Bay defensive line. No other Packer playing in the trenches is more than 6-3.

Judging from Jones' frame, he would appear capable of putting on weight, but how much is another matter. And whether he can be an effective player at any weight is similarly up for debate.

One thing is for sure, Jones played well in UCLA's 3-4 defensive front in 2012, a season in which he made 62 tackles, 19 for a loss and 6.5 sacks. That came just one year after he made 41 tackles, 6.5 for a loss and three sacks.

Among Jones' best qualities are his flexibility, the type of player that has been used all over over the defensive line.

"I moved around everywhere, from strong-side defensive end to three-tech," said Jones. "Sometimes you’d see me at nose. I played all across our defensive line."

Jones credited new UCLA coach Jim Mora for instilling a sense of accountability previously unseen in Westwood for his own personal success as a senior and that of the entire team that won the Pac-12 South title and went 9-5 overall.

Those wanting to see Jones' ceiling in the NFL can point to Watt who was a similar size to Jones when he weighed in at the Combine in 2011, although slightly bigger at 6-5 and 290 lbs.

Watt has obviously gone onto much success in professional football, being named the league's Defensive Player of the Year last season in the Houston Texans 3-4 scheme. Watt was selected 11th overall in the first round and has since bulked up only five lbs. to 295.

"A guy like J.J. Watt," said Jones when asked if there's an NFL player he patterns himself after. "I feel like the game is changing. There’s more versatile defensive linemen in today’s game.

"You don’t really see every-down defensive linemen now. You see a guy who plays first and second down, then goes and sits down. Then another pass-rush specialist comes in on third down and takes his spot. I want to be a guy who can play every down."

In terms of pure athletic ability, Watt trumped Jones when it came to the measured drills at the Combine. Jones ran a faster 40-yard dash (4.80 vs. 4.84) but Watt had more bench press reps (34 vs. 29), a higher vertical jump (37 inches vs. 31.5) and horizonal jump (120 inches vs. 112), a faster three-cone drill (6.88 seconds vs. 7.32) and short shuttle (4.21 seconds vs. 4.32).

Another player with similar size to Jones is former Packers and current Chargers defensive lineman Jarius Wynn who's 6-3 and 285 lbs. For three years in Green Bay, Wynn could never carve out much more than a part-time role as a situational pass rusher. Even then, his contributions were modest at best.

The argument can be made that Jones is better fit as a 4-3 defensive end where he can utilize his quickness off the edge instead of fighting in close quarters. But to Jones' credit, using his hands to ward off blockers is another strength.

Hand placement is something Jones continues to work on in preparation for the draft, including a move learned from a famous former New York Giant.

"In Michael Strahan’s last game––in the Super Bowl––he did a move," said Jones. "He called it his 'Hall of Fame Move.' It’s where he got his last sack. It was a cross-chop rip.

"You’ve got to get off the ball fast. You’ve got to beat the offensive lineman off the ball, give a nice head fake, get his hands down with the cross chop, then rip and you’re through. I’ve been trying to perfect that. I think that’d be real critical to my game. Hopefully it’ll help me in the future."

Another positive about Jones is that he has no character or major injury concerns. He suffered a broken foot in 2010 but has since played in 24 games without issue.

In terms of football character, Jones has it in spades.

Asked what a team will be getting if they drafted him, Jones said, "They’re getting a guy who plays with maniacal effort. A guy who wants to be the best, the best guy out there. That’s what they’re getting.

"I don’t care if DeMarcus Ware is on the team or whoever, I want to be the best player. I’m not saying I’m better than those guys, but I want to be the best on the team. A guy who wants to make every play possible. When you talk about NFL football, I want you guys to talk about Datone Jones."

Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (54) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Kevin VG's picture

Everything I read about this guy makes me hope that he's our first pick later this week. Originally I wanted someone like Jessie Williams or Sylvester Williams but I think Jones has huge upside and at worst will be an average player.

Stroh's picture

Jones is NOT what the Packers need. At 283 he might be able to gain weight, but can he gain the 30lbs he needs to be a really effective LDE? I don't think he can and remain the player he is. Totally pass on Jones due to his size and short arms, which at less than 33 in are pretty short for a guy that is 6'4. Compare him to Kawann Short who is already 6'3 300 w/ 34 in arms, can gain a little more weight and still be a playmaker. Short is very adept at blocking passes and disrupting passing lanes. He is the most similar to JJ Watt in the draft.

A guy I like late is Nick Williams Stamford. Small school guy who will need development but at 6'5 310 he is already the size we need, has 34 in arms and is incredibly athletic for his size, running sub 4.9 40.

fipp's picture

While i agree with you on Jones, I wouldn't like Short in the first round at all. He runs abit too hot and cold for my taste to reach for him at 26. Now, if you could get him in the second, go for it.

Stroh's picture

Honestly don't like any of them in the 1st. None is a perfect fit as a 34 DE, thats why I like waiting till the mid rounds on DE. That and hope Jolly can be close to what he was.

I think we need to look at a playmaking ILB or Safety in the 1st. Then maybe the opposite in the 2nd along w/ possibly DL. All the DL have holes as 34 DE.

cow42's picture

you gotta' get off the whole "jolly' thing.

that's the longest of long shots.

Stroh's picture

Why? If a QB like Vick can come back at anything close to what he was, why the heck can't a DL? QB is far more a position where his skills are likely to deteriorate after 3 years than a DL is! I'm not saying he will make it back but its hardly a longshot if a QB can miss 3 years!

cow42's picture

if one guy's 6'3" and has 34" arms and the other guy's 6'4" and has 33" arms wouldn't their fingertips be at exactly the same height if they both stood with their arms straight up in the air?

and why would jones need to add 30 lbs?

10 more and he's the same as watt.
5 more and he's the same as j. smith.

i think you're trying to find reasons to NOT drat this guy.

hate to break it to you - but if he's there... i think the Pack's gonna take him.

Stroh's picture

Is he anything like the playmaker Watt or Smith are? Hell no! Bad comparison.

ArodMoney's picture

JJ Watt only had 7 sacks his last year at Wisconsin.

Nick Perry's picture

Sorry Stroh, I agree with you a lot of the time but I love the Jones pick. Granted his arms are a little shorter but he uses his hands extremely well. He's a player that could play all 3 downs, play the run well, and rush the QB. If the Packers can get Perry up to speed, the front of Matthews, Perry, Jones, Neal, and Raji or any combination sounds pretty damn good to me. To me it was either Cyprien, Sly Williams, Patterson or Jones when the Packers drafted. Jones was the right pick. Those of us who follow the Packers knew Ted wouldn't draft Lacy and Elam is to short for Teds liking. The kid from Purdue, Short, is a round 2 guy. Now depending how the board falls the Packers go get a safety, WR, RB, or O-Line help tonight in 2 and 3.

al's picture

he needs to be a starter , beast can play the line DE,OLB,SS,TE,ILB TRUST TT good luck sir my head hurt thinking of possability ! like former jet bart scott said (cant wait ) lol

al's picture

he be gone before #26

Evan's picture

Is the 10lbs between him and a JJ Watt type really that huge of a difference? Justin Smith is also is 6'4", 285.

redlights's picture

But his measurable are not even close to Watt.

I'd love to see Jolly get back in the groove. Vick is an honest comparison, but I still but Jolly at 10% chance of making the final 53. IMHO.

Evan's picture

Yeah, I'm not saying he's the next JJ Watt. It just seems a lot of people are fixated on his weight.

Barutan Seijin's picture

I'm not really high on him anyway, but Jones looks like a 4-3 guy to me.

Zach Kruse's picture

Justin Smith came into the NFL at 267 pounds. He did 26 reps at 225 at the '01 Combine. I think weight as an end-all on Datone Jones doesn't do him justice. You don't have to be 310 to be a very good five technique.

Stroh's picture

Justin Smith turned himself into an absolute BEAST and both he and Watt play w/ an intensity that Jones lacks. I don't see Jones being anywhere near the playmaker either Smith or Watt is. Jones was a lackluster player his entire career until this year, when he turned it on a little. And even then he doesn't play w/ near the intensity and drive of Watt or Smith.

Drealyn Williams's picture

And what did Clay Mathews show during his college career?

Stroh's picture

INTENSITY?! Something Jones doesn't really have and showed none of until this past season, when he finally showed a little. Matthews was a late bloomer, but no one ever questioned his intensity and desire to play. Jones has had talent all along but never played like he cared. Whats gonna happen when he gets paid?

Jamie's picture

That's a complete fabrication.

C'mon man...you can't just throw a broad (and false) overgeneralization out there without being called out on it.

Drealyn Williams's picture

Wow...

Stroh's picture

Complete fabrication?

CBS... " A classic 'tweener who until his senior season hadn't ever lived up to expectations." and "tires quickly and struggles to disengage once his opponent has locked on"

Wait theres more?! NFL.com "Jones looks the part, and his production matched up to his talent in his senior season. Sounds like a guy who turned it on as Sr, but was a bit of a slacker his first 3 years.

Doesn't exactly sound like a guy that plays hard consistently or that continues to play hard when tired, does it? I don't fabricate I read everything I can find on a guy before I form an opinion.

markinmadison's picture

The comparisons to Jarius Wynn do not make me feel good. When you consider that a classic 34 DE's primary job is to occupy up to two lineman to free the LBs to make plays, you sure better be closer to 310 than 275. A player can always add some weight, or play with superior technique, but a sub 300 34 DE presents a risk of being relatively weak against the run.

As for motor, see a NFP article from 2011 about JJ Watt, race, athleticism and motor. Long story short, I would hesitate to talk too much about a guys motor unless I had really studied every play. Be wary of scouting reports talking about motor when the comments fit a stereotype.

THEMichaelRose's picture

In fairness, Jarius Wynn was a third day pick of whom the Packers probably had low expectations.
I think he's only comparing the body/frame. Not the talent/potential.

And to everyone who says we need a guy who's 300+ lbs, we traded up to draft Jerel Worthy last year. Yeah he's hurt now, but let's not give up on him. We're not necessarily in the hunt for another huge DE with redundant skills as our second pick last year (Kawann Short). I like the idea of a longer, more versatile guy. JJ Watt is the prototype, but it's obvious guys like him don't come around often. So you can't really hold a late first round pick to the standard of becoming the DPOY in his second year.

mark's picture

I want nothing to do with Datone Jones.

packsmack25's picture

I'd rather not have dat one. Give me another one.

THEMichaelRose's picture

Just as a reminder, we're trading out of the first round. I'm so confident.
But I don't know why I'm so confident, because I just looked, and we've actually only traded out of the 1st round one time. (2008-Nelson) in the Ted era. We do a lot more trading down in the later rounds evidently. Still, I want to compile picks, take more swings.

Stroh's picture

A lot of us would like to see the Packers move down and pick up another 3rd rd pick. But you have to find a team that wants to move from top 2nd to bottom 1st. Usually that happens for QB's or if a team is in love w/ a certain player. Its just hard to find a team that is willing to move up. Saying goes... it takes 2 to tango.

THEMichaelRose's picture

Right. I feel like this year is shaping up like that. Someone will want to jump to get their top choice at QB before the night ends. Pats will be looking to move out too.

Jamie's picture

Stroh - None, absolutely none of what you posted says he "never played like he cared". A person, you or anyone else, should make such a statement without deriving a first-hand opinion by watching extensive game tapes, and/or at the very least talking to the pkayer's coaches or the player himself.

You just completely over exaggerated a few statements, coming from folks that aren't necessarily even qualified to give an accurate opinion nor have the access to assess these things on a player.

As markinmadison pointed out, those types of statements from the hoards of draftniks these days need to be taken with a grain of salt.

I will add that in the recent past a D-line prospect's effort was questioned by draftniks, when in fact the player was playing virtually every defensive snap up and down the D-line. He would be exhausted throughout the game...physically incapable if giving more effort. That player was Mike Neal, who I won't argue has produced or been available as much as any of us hoped, but the one thing that cannot be questioned is his work ethic and effort. If anything the guy works out too much.

I bring Neal up because Jones also played large numbers of snaps up and down the D-line, and is having his effort questioned by draftniks.

No matter how many draftniks or comments you post, there is far too little information available to us to say Datone Jones "never played like he cared".

Stroh's picture

We all use CBS all the time to form opinions. Just like I did there. Don't cry foul now just due to you not liking it! You tell me what other reason he had that he disn't show up for 3 yrs or what your excuse for him is. Either way its still an excuse since the talent was there and he should have shown up but didn't

Jamie's picture

1) Not a single source you posted said anything remotely close to "never played like he cared". You took what they said to mean what you wanted it to mean and then exaggerated it.

2) They did question his early production, and his motor, but having less production and an inconsistent motor does not necessarily have any direct relation to him not caring....unless you choose to read it that way out of bias. You may just be extremely naive, or again are just choosing to read it that way, but there are TONS of players that have much less production and get unfairly labeled by draftniks ever year. To ignore that fact again is bias or naive to the draftnik MO.

3) Back here in the real world...having lesser production early in a career could due to upwards of 10 different reasons. Most college players, especially D-lineman take a year or two to get the playing time, strength, and maturity to have big years. Jones is not at all alone in this category.

I'm personally on the fence with drafting Jones. I just cant stand people attaching baseless labels to players...especially when it is obvious that person has no first hand knowledge of the player.

But I'll just chalk this up to you being extremely gullible and incapable of forming an informed opinion of your own...and leave it at that.

Stroh's picture

The way I see it, if he was a career underachiever like CBS say, that tells me he didn't care or wasn't motivated! Whats gonna happen when he gets pd? Is he gonna start playing more motivated and to his talent level? Highly doubtful!

When a guy has the talent to make plays and doesn't until his about to get paid, it means he doesn't care/isn't self-motivated.

Disagree if you want, I don't care. That's what I see!

Stroh's picture

Top 5 talent? Now that's ridiculous! Jones isn't even top 20 talent. Its easy to turn it on for a wk, or even one season, where was he his entire career before this season?! No one is questioning he has talent, but how/if he decides to use it.

Nononsense's picture

Margus Hunt
Damontre Moore
Datone Jones
Eric Reid
Tyler Eifert

One of these 5 guys will be a Green Bay Packer, Thursday night.

Stroh's picture

Reid only of that list. I don't like any of the others for various reasons.

hump's picture

i will buy everyone a beer if we land eifert !!!!!!!!!!

Luke's picture

Comparing Jones to Watt is crazy, as the article ends up underlining. Watt beats him in every physical and athletic test going bar the 40.

After comparing him to the best 3-4 DE in the game it goes on to compare him with Jarius Wynn.

Great. So he's somewhere between Watt and Wynn. Great.

I hope we pass. We have bigger needs and there will be better players than him for a 3-4 team at #26.

lebowski's picture

You just cracked me up big time. "So he's somewhere between Watt and Wynn". I'm laughing typing this.

Jamie's picture

For his sake I hope Stroh is 12, or that he doesn't jump to conclusions the same way in real life. Really effed up and shallow way to look at things.

dawg's picture

Jones pick dose not impress me, small but can grow = size. Better motor than Perry!
Tells me TT bust on Perry?.
TT, trade away 1st rnd, you suck at it!
Yikes and cats gain tonight!

dawg's picture

Jones better than Perry, OLB, what do we do w/ Perry now, who didn't want to be here anyway.
Can Capers beef him up to play the line?
Which is getting Pickett old?

jack in jersey city's picture

dude, perry is a linebacker and jones will play defensive end

Point Packer's picture

I think this was a solid pick. Of course, none of us will know till he's around for a few years. I like his willingness to grow and adapt and his background in martial arts. His size is also a plus as is his character.

We needed help on the D-line (for sure) and he was one of the best 2-3 defensive players available. I think this one was a no-brainer. I wish him the best.

On to round two.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Yessir.

ArodMoney's picture

Should have known it was the pick. Jones 10 yards split(1.63) was faster than JJ Watts(1.64). Love it

Lucky953's picture

Let's start learning to love him and welcome him to GB. There's gonna be plenty of time to see what he's got. Dline just got overall faster and stronger. They've watched a lot more film on this kid that I have. I'm just thankful he's not coming off a knee or shoulder injury from last year!
Round 2?
Wide receiver, safety or Oline?

Point Packer's picture

Safety or O-line. WR in later rounds for sure.

Nononsense's picture

I like the Jones pick, hes was the only guy to give 1st overall pick Eric Fisher fits at the Senior Bowl. I look at him as an ascending player whos best football is in front of him.

Now I just hope we get lucky and land Margus Hunt in the 2nd round. I know its unlikely but a guy can wish can't he?

Ma Linger's picture

I don't think it matter much. He's one guy and can possible help our D but our D needs three drafts to get healthy.
I just don't get it how the Vikes got three first round picks this year, two last year - both pro bowlers and the Lions have two picks and were sitting here with one pick.
I'm convinced the Vikes fell the playmakers are always in the top 32, not the late rounds, or undrafted's like TT thinks and they are loading up with playmakers, were loading up with a marginal late first round pick and a ton of second stringers.
The Pack is going backwards. The vikes will dominate them for years. Last years draft was a total bust for TT. He did nothing to help the team. Made it worse actually.

Jamie's picture

Go troll elsewhere

Point Packer's picture

Christian Ponder.

djbonney138's picture

Dude looks quick. I hope he and Clay can get along with the whole whole USC/UCLA thing, lol.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsb5fGAdsK8

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