The First Round of the 2013 NFL Draft had plenty of surprises and headline stories, one pick that didn’t generate much buzz though was the Green Bay Packers selection of UCLA defensive end Datone Jones. Yet, despite the lack of hype surrounding the pick, general manager Ted Thompson hit a home run with the 26th pick, getting a player that will add to an already potent pass rush but also brings the physicality, which the Packers have coveted throughout the offseason.
At 6-3, 283 pounds, Jones may not have the athleticism to be a 4-3 defensive end but should fit perfectly in Green Bay as a five-technique in Dom Capers 3-4 defense. At that spot, Jones will be able to use his disruptive ability to set the edge and penetrate into the backfield, which should help improve a run defense that ranked 17th in total rushing yards allowed and 26th in yards per carry given to opposing runners.
Over the course of his four-year career with UCLA, Jones was highly productive, totaling 148 career tackles (36.5 for loss) to go along with 12.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and five passes defensed. Last season, he was particularly effective as he notched 62 tackles (19.5 for loss) and five sacks.
Sure the Packers could have taken Alabama running back Eddy Lacy with the 26th pick but when you get a chance to add a player like Jones, who has the ability to wreak havoc upfront, you simply can’t pass up on it.
Even though Jones is naturally a defensive end, but he could make his greatest impact as an interior pass rusher, when the Packers play their nickel and dime defenses. Jones will likely be given every opportunity to earn a spot inside rushing next to B.J. Raji. That would give the Packers a very formidable four-man rush with the combination Jones and Raji inside as well as Clay Matthews and Nick Perry on the outside.
The Packers certainly have other needs that be addressed but this draft for them was not about adding players at specific positions, it’s about getting tougher and more physical so when the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks come calling, the Packers will be able to answer the bell. There is still plenty of work to be done over the next two days, but adding a physically dominating defensive lineman, means the Packers draft and their quest to be more physical is off to a promising start.