When the college football season ends and players head off to combines, there are always a few names that blow away the competition and climb their way into the 1st Round. This year one of those players is UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Datone Jones. He received an invite to the Senior Bowl where he physically dominated his competition and put the world on notice. Jones wasn’t done yet, he made his way to the NFL Combine and again blew away scouts and now may be on his way to being a 1st Round pick.
6′ 5″ 283 lbs.
Datone Jones is quickly becoming one of my favorite players in the entire 2013 NFL Draft class. Jones has a quick burst off the snap, that helps him slash quickly into the backfield. Jones is a violent player, who uses his hands and strength to fight his way into the backfield. Jones was phenomenal during the Senior Bowl being very physical with his hands to fight through blockers. His mixture of strength, burst and physical nature help him get into the backfield quickly to blow up the run or get after the quarterback.
Jones also has shown the ability to play multiple positions on the defensive line. He has the power and lower body strength to play inside, but he also has enough athleticism and burst to play on the outside in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. If Jones were to play inside he has the frame to add more weight, without losing any of his athleticism. No matter where Jones plays on the defensive line, he will become an instant contributor with his ability to bring inside pressure and find his way into the backfield.
Datone Jones is a promising prospect, but he also has a long way to go before becoming an every-down player in the NFL. Jones has the physical ability to push through the offensive line, but he still is limited in his pass rush moves. If he can’t get past the blocker early after the snap, he will get caught up and be taken out of the play.
There are also still questions about where Jones will play at the next level. He still is a bit of a project for what position he plays. He has enough athleticism to play DE but not enough to speed make him a surefire starter. His quick burst will help him get the advantage but in a growing age of the read-option offense, he doesn’t have the straight-line speed to pursue mobile QB’s. If coaches decide to slide him inside he will need to add weight to avoid being handled by bigger interior guards at the next level. Jones has the ability to be a great every-down player, but he still has a ways to go.
While may still project Datone Jones to land somewhere in the 2nd Round, I think he has now done enough to warrant a 1st Round pick. Jones versatility to play multiple positions make him a fit for any defensive scheme, and he still has room to grow. Jones will have his Pro Day on March 12 where I expect him to solidify his position as a 1st Round pick.
Datone Jones Highlights: