Datone Jones answers questions from the media at NFL Combine.
Question: What did medical exams on your broken foot in 2010 say?
Jones: It was good news. It’s healed. It happened two years ago. It hasn’t bothered me since.
Q: Has your foot affected you?
Jones: I haven’t lost anything. When it first happened I felt like I did. It was all mental. I got it back eventually. I’ve been playing on it. I played 24 games on it.
Q: Where did you line up at UCLA?
Jones: I moved around everywhere, from strong-side defensive end to three-tech. Sometimes you’d see me at nose. I played all across our defensive line.
Q: Can you tell us about Michael Strahan’s “Hall of Fame” pass-rush move you've been working on?
Jones: The cross-chop rip. It’s a tough move. … In Michael Strahan’s last game, in the Super Bowl, he did a move; 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.
Q: Do you admire players Justin Tuck and Darnell Docket?
Jones: Those are guys I really watch, who I model myself after. They pretty much have the same techniques as me.
Q: Can you play in both a 4-3 and 3-4?
Jones: Oh yeah, most definitely. I can be a strong-side defensive end in a 4-3. Then on third downs I can come in and rush from the three-tech. At the same time, I played in a 3-4 defense this past season where I was really effective at rushing the passer and being in the backfield.
Q: What did the Senior Bowl do for you?
Jones: I felt like it showed the world who Datone Jones was. I’ve always known it. My coaches back home have known it. Everybody I played with has known it. I feel like I just showed the public, going against some of the best talent across the country, I felt like I showed everybody who I really was. What type of guy am I? Am I going to work hard in practice? When times get hard, am I going to shy away from reps? Nah, that’s not who Datone Jones is. I’m a guy who’s always going to a front-runner. I’m a guy who wants to be the best. That’s the one thing I wanted to show everyone at the Senior Bowl.
Q: Was it difficult dealing with the tough early times at UCLA?
Jones: It wasn’t peaches and cream. I had fun, though. I learned a lot under great coaching staffs. A lot of times we didn’t come out on top.
Q: What changed at UCLA?
Jones: The leadership. Internally, as a team, we took it amongst ourselves to outwork everyone across the country. We worked from Monday to Saturday, grinding. It was mandatory. No excuses. Fully committed. A fully committed team. That was one thing we wanted to be. We held everyone to a high standard in the locker room. I felt like if we would have gone out and won four games again … instead of seven guys being here, there’d be two UCLA guys here. Changing the program around, I felt like that helped a lot of guys’ careers out.
Q: What was it like playing for Jim Mora?
Jones: It’s unbelievable. He’s a great guy. He’s a players’ coach. He’s going to fire you up. He’s going to expect the best. He told us when he came in, in his first team meeting, 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 54-man roster now.” I felt like it helped. I’ve been well-prepared for this.
Q: Why did you improve so much as a senior?
Jones: There were a lot of different factors. I felt like the coaching change helped. It was one of the steppingstones. But like I said before, the seniors took it amongst ourselves to better our team and make sure that we held everyone to a higher standard, including ourselves. We had the talent at UCLA, and we wanted to make sure we got every bit of energy out of it.
Q: Who is an NFL player you'd like to be like?
Jones: Like a guy like J.J. Watt. 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.
Q: Do you want to lose or add weight?
Jones: It depends on where a team needs me to be. I can’t really judge it. My starting point is 284.
Q: What will a team get from you?
Jones: 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.
Q: What is Johnathan Franklin like?
Jones: Johnathan Franklin is a great guy. Great guy to be around. He’s a high-character guy, and he’s a hard worker. Johnathan Franklin is another guy who wants to be the best. His energy, a lot of times you’ll see him getting tackled in the backfield; all of a sudden he has a first down 5 yards later. It’s crazy, man. His work ethic is something that a lot of guys should follow. He’s real humble. Hard worker. Just an unbelievable athlete.
Q: What kind of influence did Jim Mora have?
Jones: With the talent UCLA had, we had a lot of guys who were highly ranked coming out of high school. A lot of guys who had egos. One thing he made sure we did was check our egos at the door. No one’s ego was higher than the team’s. That was one thing that kept us grounded – make sure that we always stay committed. It felt like if you missed a workout or a practice, you were an outcast in our locker room. That’s how it felt. If you missed a workout or a practice, it felt like you couldn’t even eat training table because your brothers went to war and you didn’t. You didn’t really deserve to eat. We took that approach. Everybody in our locker room felt that way, from the freshmen to the seniors. It was a big difference.