As NFL offenses typically focus on the passing game, DCs have been focusing on hybrid defenders, capable of lining up inside and out depending on the down and distance. Datone Jones meets this criteria, playing highly effective football at both DT and DE. He could be valuable to a 4-3 or 3-4 defense and is expected to go off the board in the first round of the 2013 draft.
For more information on the impressive Jones, we turn once more to Greg Burcham of Bruins Nation. You can follow the Bruins Nation blog, as well as their twitter account @bruinnation and Greg’s twitter at @gbruin91.
Tale of the Tape:
How did the highly coveted Jones end up at UCLA?
Datone had offers from USC, Notre Dame, Oregon, Nebraska and others. He really liked UCLA because of DeWayne Walker, the DC who stayed from Dorrell’s staff to be Neuheisel’s DC. Datone also had the opportunity at UCLA to play right away due to a very thin roster on the D line. Datone was another local inner city kid, and Dorrell and his staff did a good job of reaching out to that area.
What contributions did he make to the Bruins’ football program?
After Dorrell was fired, when Neuheisel was able to keep Datone’s commitment, which was probably the top recruit in that class, it really boosted the perception of the Bruins ability to draw talent. He did end up playing as a freshman, but he never really had his hoped-for impact until his senior year. Datone added a lot of stability in the line, starting every game over his last 3 years (he was out one year in that stretch for his a fracture.)
What strengths and weaknesses can be attributed to Jones’ game?
Datone has the ability to play either DE or DT. His size in the NFL may actually be better suited to DT, though with a few more pounds, he has the strength to play DE where his athleticism would give him an advantage. Speed is really his best asset and he spent a lot of time in opponents’ backfields this season.
Is Jones a better 3 or 5 technique player and why?
Datone liked playing the 3 tech better in college as he is very athletic and strong, but is still plenty quick to beat interior linemen. He was second on the Bruins for TFL playing this position in 2012 and was outstanding when the Bruins switched to 4-3 this year
In what type of NFL defense do you see his skills being most valuable?
That’s hard to predict. Datone has been his best as a 3 tech in a 4-3 D, where he can use his speed to shoot gaps rather than trying to stand up O linemen. Being a bit lighter and faster makes him well suited as a pash rusher, though in college he stopped plenty of runs in the backfield. I think he’ll need to bulk up some to be a good run stopper against NFL talent though. I do think he’s quick and strong enough to play a two-gap as a DE in a 3-4, but would have a tough time with offensive tackles at his current weight which is prob ~280ish
After missing 2010 with a right foot injury, has he seemed to lose anything in his game since?
His foot injury never seemed to have much effect on his game after he returned. His disappointing 2011 wasn’t really injury related. In 2011, we expected Datone to really have his breakout year, and we heard all camp how he was unblockable, but he really struggled to have much impact that season. He later said that he was too simply selfish that year and was thinking too much about stats. He rededicated himself in the 2012 season and played his role in the new 4-3 D, and he finally had the breakout dominating year we were hoping for.
Thank you to Greg Burcham for the help and please check out the blog and Twitter accounts associated with him and Bruins Nation for much more on these intriguing UCLA prospects coming out in the 2013 draft.