Packers bolster defensive line with UCLA's Jones

BY foxsports • April 25, 2013

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have added to their defensive line in a big way, drafting UCLA's Datone Jones with the 26th overall pick. Jones, a fifth-year senior who is 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, had 5.5 sacks, 62 total tackles and 19 stops for loss during the 2012 season. "Datone is a very versatile player," general manager Ted Thompson said. "He played up and down the line of scrimmage at UCLA. We think he adds a lot of versatility to our group, should be able to fit in and help our group out." Jones, who is from Compton, Calif., started every game in his final two college seasons after missing all of 2010 with a broken right foot. That injury was the reason Jones redshirted the 2010 season. "He's a very sharp guy, a very impressive guy," Thompson said. "We think he'll be really good in some of our sub packages and add a little something to our group, which we're always trying to do." Weighing 285 pounds makes Jones the lightest of Green Bay's defensive linemen. "I don't know," Thompson responded when asked whether Jones was heavy enough to play inside. "I think in our base package he probably wouldn't be, but in the sub packages, you watch him play in college, and I know college is different than the pros, but he lines up all over." What Jones lacks in weight, he more than makes up for in height and overall length. His basketball background also intrigued the Packers as it helped reveal his athleticism. "You like those athletic guys who can go into space and rush outside," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "It gives you more flexibility because you can move them around. We do that with Clay (Matthews) a lot." Jones didn't start playing football until his sophomore year of high school. Prior to that, he was solely a basketball player at the point guard position. At the Scouting Combine, Jones ran a 4.80 in the 40-yard dash, had a 31 1/2-inch vertical jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 29 times. "You like to have as much speed as you can," Capers said. "The way offenses are headed, they're going to be spread out and it will become more of a space game. When you're spread out and have to cover space, the more speed you have, the better you're going to be." Soon after being selected by Green Bay, Jones already knew plenty about the Packers organization, saying that Green Bay and the New York Giants were his favorite teams growing up. "When I finally saw the Green Bay Packers come up on my screen, oh, my gosh, I almost fainted, man," Jones said in a teleconference. "It's such a dream come true to be able to play for the Packers and greats like Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji and to have Aaron Rodgers as a quarterback. It's so surreal." The Packers were in need of added depth on their defensive line. Thompson started to address this spot in the 2012 draft, selecting Jerel Worthy in the second round and Mike Daniels in the fourth round, but it wasn't enough. Green Bay's defense lacked consistent pressure up front and was one of the weakest links heading into this year's draft. Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett is the oldest player on their roster at age 33 and is in the final year of his contract. Worthy suffered a torn ACL in Week 17 and could miss significant time next season. C.J. Wilson is a one-dimensional run stopper, and Mike Neal is a one-dimensional pass rusher. Capers hopes Jones is able to offer a good mix of stopping the run and pass and can be on the field in a variety of ways. "He's athletic and he's long, so he moves with ease," Capers said. "I think that he'll be able to give us rush inside. In our 3-4, he can play out at defensive end and he can be an inside player and do a good job against both the run and the pass inside." Jones has his sights set high in the NFL. The talkative, well-spoken 22-year-old isn't content just being an ordinary player. "I always tell myself, I want to be the best defensive lineman," he said. "I want to be the best football player of all time. That's my goal." Jones even compared himself a bit to Packers legend Reggie White. "Just knowing him and watching a lot of him when I was growing up, all I know is Reggie White played one way, and that was with maniacal effort and just complete hunger," Jones said. "No matter who he lined up against, he wanted to dominate. And that's the type of player I want to carry myself after, just a player that wants to dominate at whatever he does and wants to win. "I hate losing, and I'm happy to come to an organization like Green Bay, with a winning tradition. To be able to play at Lambeau Field is crazy. I'm so hyped up right now already. I just want to play." Jones will wear No. 95 for the Packers.

Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.


share story