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Datone Jones Wins the Lottery in Green Bay

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Datone Jones Wins the Lottery in Green Bay

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

Asked to give his initial impression of first round draft choice Datone Jones following the first day of practice at rookie orientation camp, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said, "I'm glad he's here."

McCarthy is understandably excited about his new addition to the Green Bay defense. Jones brings an element––several elements––missing from the Packers defensive line the past few seasons. He has the potential to be a three-down player, can play both end and tackle, can rush the passer as well as stuff the run, and at 6-4, has more length than any other defensive lineman on the roster.

The cherry on top of the sundae for McCarthy was Jones' background from his college days at UCLA, which the head coach hopes will allow his new chess piece to step in right away and be a factor.

"Datone hit the lottery in a number of different ways," said McCarthy. "It's the same terminology. Lou Spanos, their defensive coordinator, is someone who grew up in the system in Pittsburgh and does a great job. And so the terminology will be pretty seamless for him."

Hit the lottery indeed. By becoming a first round draft choice Jones is about to become an instant millionaire. Because of the NFL's nearly predetermined rookie wage scale, Jones will very soon sign a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $11.7 million, including a signing bonus of $3.9 million, just for putting his John Hancock on the dotted line.

But as far as football concerned, it's probably not going to take Jones long to familiarize himself with coordinator Dom Capers' 3-4 defensive system, and a lot of it has to do with UCLA bringing in Jim Mora Jr. and his knowledge of the NFL last season.

Following an uninspiring 21-29 record over four years as head coach of the Bruins, UCLA fired Rick Neuheisel and brought in a head coach with a professional football pedigree, which has made all the difference in Westwood.

"He told us when he came in, in his first team meeting," said Jones at the NFL Combine, "if you have aspirations of playing on the next level, he said, 'Then I’m your guy. I’m bringing an NFL staff in here––coaches who’ve never coached college football before.'

"He’s never coached college football before, so he said this is the NFL now. If you’re a senior, he said this is your rookie year. All your coaches are from the NFL. He said, 'You’ve got to make my 53-man roster now.' I felt like it helped. I’ve been well-prepared for this."

In addition to being a position coach and coordinator at several different stops in the NFL, Mora was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2004 to 2006 and again for the Seattle Seahawks in 2009.

"Jim Mora's a heck of a football coach that I've had the opportunity to compete against in the past," said McCarthy. "And you can see Jim, he's really made an impression, and he's got that program off to a great start. That's something (Jones and I) had a chance to talk about last night. I'm just very impressed with the way (he) had been prepared for the NFL."

When Mora was hired as coach at UCLA in 2012 after two years spent in broadcasting with Fox and the NFL Network, he hired Spanos as his defensive coordinator. Spanos had previously spent 15 seasons as an assistant with the Steelers and three more with the Washington Redskins.

Back in 1994, Spanos and Capers spent one season working with the Steelers together when Capers was the defensive coordinator and Spanos was working as an intern in the scouting department.

When you start to connect the dots between Jones' obvious physical attributes and his experience playing for an NFL-like program at UCLA, you start to learn why Packers general manager Ted Thompson tagged him as the 26th overall choice in the NFL Draft.

"We run a 3-4 here, a tight front, that's what we ran at UCLA," said Jones on Friday upon meeting the local Green Bay media for the first time. "I'm picking up on the terminology pretty fast. I'm just trying to do my part, doing my due diligence by coming in here and learning the playbook and learning from the older guys and learning the Green Bay Packers way."

Jones' first practice as a member of the Packers is in the books, but he's just getting started. He'll wrap up two more days of rookie orientation camp on Saturday and Sunday before joining the rest of the veterans in Green Bay for organized team activities before the month is over.

Expectations from the fan base and the media will be high for Jones, but those from McCarthy––at least for this weekend––are more modest.

"He just told me to learn the playbook so I can play fast," said Jones. "That's what I'm going to do first, learn the playbook."

Considering it was pretty darn close to the playbook he used at UCLA, Jones is already a step ahead of most NFL rookies.

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: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

cow42's picture

this i like.

Jamie's picture

I guess we won't cut him...yet

Stroh's picture

Only cuz Cow is ok w/ it... Otherwise he was a wasted pick. Wait he didn't like Jones, so I guess it was a waste either way! Cut him NOW!

Stroh's picture

Any thing that helps him make an impact sooner. Was hoping to get Sly Williams instead, but I've heard a lot to like about Jones, so I'm on board. Between him and Neal hope we can get a Jenkins type effect on the D.

Lars's picture

Neal? Why include him? If Neal could replace Cullen Jenkins he would have by now. He couldn't, hence Daytone Jones in R1, who I think will be better than Jenkins. Neal will fight for a roster spot with CJ Wilson and will likely be gone after this season.

Stroh's picture

Neal hasn't replaced Jenkins ONLY due to injury. His very limited time on the field as a rookie showed enough to think he could replace Jenkins and IMO had a lot to do w/ Jenkins being allowed to leave. His play last year got better as the year continued and he ended up w/ 4 1/2 sacks and was very much in the rotation. If Neal stays healthy he's got the same type of game as Jones! Both could now develop into the type of player that Jenkins was.

MadMan's picture

This is great news. Also good news is that Franklin will be able to stay in Green Bay for OTA's due to the fact he has already graduated otherwise he would not be allowed to participate due to the four quarters system UCLA uses. Can't wait to see Lacy and Franklin in the backfield separate or together.

Mr.Bigg's picture

There is something deep inside this guy that will drive him. You see it in his face, you hear it in his voice. This is a guy that you want to see do great.

kathy's picture

I could not agree more. There's something about the intangible called "heart". This young man has "heart" written all over him. Combine that with God-given talent, and a bit more than rudimentary knowledge of the system? Oh man! I think we fans are in for something special.

I bleed Green More's picture

So far if they are half of what the seem like I am all in.

packsmack25's picture

He has been incredibly gracious on Twitter. He even responded to me when I wasn't really even tweeting at him, just remarking on how scary he looks (seriously, he looks like he could rip a bus in half). Also, he's apparently never even been to a pro football game, something that boggles my mind. I'm really excited to see what the kid can do. Oh, and he seems to love Nagler.

MLecl0001's picture

He was a big basketball guy before football guy, probably explains why he never saw a game. Then when he did get serious about football he was playing the game on the weekends.

ArodMoney's picture

Not that surprising considering LA doesn't have a team

packsmack25's picture

What does that have to do with Nagler?

al's picture

nate paulmer looking good wow ?

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Hellz yes, dude's responded to me a couple times already on the twitters... Seems like a good dude.

Nononsense's picture

This is even better than I expected from Jones when GB drafted him. I knew he played in a 3-4 and would be familiar with the scheme but I didn't know he would know half of the playbook already. Thats awesome.

I been saying pick 26 was gonna net us a special player and I really hope that proves to be true with Datone Jones. We could really use a guy like this thats ready to contribute immediately.

I admit I had Margus Hunt as my first choice in the first round but Datone Jones was on my list of the 5 guys I would have been happy with at 26. The others were Eric Reid S (18th pick) Tyler Eifert (19-21 can't exactly remember) and the guy I really overvalued was Damontre Moore (who was drafted in the 3rd or 4th round I believe).

Jamie's picture

As long as you didn't have Jesse Williams on your list, I won't make fun of you.

packsmack25's picture

Hey now...I liked Jesse Williams. I just think his injury is far worse than anyone knew.

Stroh's picture

Jesse Williams is a big immovable slug. Nothing but a NT in the NFL who doesn't provide a pass rush. With Pickett and Raji on the roster Williams would have been a waste. I liked Sly WIlliams due to his size and playmaking ability.

Stroh's picture

Hunt went to a 43 team like I said he would! He would have been a bust in a 34 D. No doubt in my mind about it and he might well be a bust in a 43 too.

At the time I wanted Sly Williams. Thought we needed to get bigger, not smaller. I've heard a lot about Jones that I now like and I might have been to closed to Jones due to his wt. I still don't think he'll get a lot bigger, but I'm on board now, as long as he continues to show on the field.

Nononsense's picture

No he didn't make my top 5 for the 1st round but I can't lie he was in the top 10 of my day 2 list(2nd and 3rd Round).

While im being honest, I didn't even consider Eddie Lacy as a guy GB would draft in the first or second round so he didn't make any of my lists. Didn't think he'd last till our pick in the 2nd anyway.

Happy as hell that TT took Lacy though especially after(I believe) we lost out on Hunt in the 2nd.

BrianD's picture

"he said this is the NFL now. If you’re a senior, he said this is your rookie year."

Franklin had one hell of an NFL rookie year last year.

COW CHIP TOSSER 42's picture

lets toss cow42 out of the packer family circle of trust.lets go for it.ban the beef...ban the beef

al's picture

happy mothers day weres day 2 and 3 of rookie mini camp or orentaion ? more football talk pls :)

al's picture

brian were are ya man ?

al's picture

packers.com has updates wow !!!!!!!!

al's picture

mm said best rookie class play scence hes been here

al's picture

will see making it to game 19 right brian ,packmack25,fitzcore

Lucky953's picture

"Playing fast" = don't trip over your brain out there. It looks like mr jones will hit the ground running and will have a much bigger impact than nick perry did last year . He had too much to learn

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