Datone Jones to Packers: How Does DE Fit with Green Bay?

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IApril 26, 2013

October 13, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive end Datone Jones (56) defends against Utah Utes offensive linesman Tevita Stevens (54) during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers drafted an immediate starter at a need position when they took UCLA defensive end Datone Jones at No. 26 overall in the 2013 NFL draft.

No matter how you slice it up, general manager Ted Thompson hit a home run to begin his draft. 

After a painful outclassing by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional round, the Packers entered this offseason with obvious depth and talent issues on the defensive line.

While former first-round pick B.J. Raji and the run-stuffing Ryan Pickett will return as likely starters next season, a gaping hole emerged at the other five-technique position in Green Bay's three-man front. 

Not only is depth an issue, but the Packers have simply lacked a difference-maker alongside Raji and Pickett since Cullen Jenkins departed as a free agent in 2011.

C.J. Wilson, a former seventh-rounder who made seven starts in the base last season, probably isn't talented enough to start on a good defense.

Mike Neal came on strong to end last season, but he is injury-prone and doesn't have the weight or skills necessary to start in the base defense. 

Mike Daniels, a 2012 draft pick, is more of a situational pass-rusher. He's unlikely to ever factor into the base defense heavily. And Jerel Worthy, last season's second-rounder, is still rehabbing after ACL surgery. He can't be expected to play a big role in 2013, especially early on. 

These realities left the Packers with a crystal clear objective in this draft: find a three-down player who can start in the base and disrupt in the nickel. 

Mission accomplished. 

A powerful, well-built defensive end with experience playing the five-technique at UCLA, Jones can anchor the edge in the base and bring a pass-rushing threat to the nickel package. He's a perfect answer to the question marks that have plagued Green Bay's defensive  line. 

I'd go as far as to argue Jones could be an immediate difference-maker for the Packers, much in the same mold as Jenkins. He has the length (6'4", 33" arms) Green Bay has coveted, while also possessing the strong hands necessary to consistently disengage as a pass-rusher. 

The Packers also have to feel great about the value of the pick, as Jones could have come off the board to several teams before No. 26. In fact, I had him as my No. 1 overall player of my Packers-centered first-round big board at CheeseheadTV.

But instead of landing in Indianapolis or elsewhere, Jones fell right into the lap of Thompson. Considering his talent and fit in Green Bay, it's unlikely that sending in the card for Jones was a difficult decision in the Packers war room.