NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: UCLA DE Datone Jones
|03.28.13 at 7:04 am ET|
WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.
Position: Defensive end
Weight: 283 pounds
Achievements: 2012 All Pac-12 second team, 2008 All-Pac-10 freshman team
What he brings: Jones is an intriguing prospect who falls under the ‘tweener’ label for interior defensive linemen. With solid burst, hands and technique, the UCLA product is a great athlete who even made appearances at tight end for the Bruins.
Depending on how you look at it, Jones is fast and strong enough to play both tackle and end or too small and slow to excel at either position in a 4-3. Meanwhile, he’s perfect as a 5-technique in a 3-4. In the Patriots’ case, though, Jones would provide a versatile piece long their defensive front who could play off of a premiere nose tackle in Vince Wilfork and a budding pass-rusher in Chandler Jones.
Instead of the ‘hair on fire’ defender that the defense just sends after the quarterback, Jones brings a more balanced game along the defensive line that presents a threat to disrupt a play regardless of formation is dialed up or where he’s placed along the line. Jones can be used to play at end on run downs and in the A-gap on passing downs, allowing the defense to place him in positions to succeed on a given play.
While the UCLA product can be utilized well in the right scheme, Jones isn’t the sort of plug-and-play defender who is going to lay the foundation of a dominant defense. Instead, he’s likely to be the piece that moves around the building blocks of a front seven unit to help the defense as a whole. In terms of pure ceiling, Jones has the potential to be a disrupter all along the defensive line like J.J. Watt (though maybe not that disruptive). Meanwhile, his floor would be more along the lines of former Patriot Jarvis Green, a complementary player who is a piece in a good defense.
Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1
Notes: Jones is a likely candidate to come off of the board at the end of the first round, where the better teams in the league may have higher values for him. Because he’s not a top-flight pass-rusher or run-stuffer that defenses can build around, he’s unlikely to go to a team that needs a huge boost. But for a team like the Texans, Vikings or 49ers looking to add a versatile chess piece to a scheme that’s already in place, Jones presents a very valuable target to help bolster a defense.
The Seahawks were heavy favorites to target Jones at No. 25 before shipping the pick off to Minnesota. However, each of the teams in the 23-28 range have been projected to be in the hunt for him, lowering the possibility that he falls to the Pats at No. 29.
Related articles: LA Times: UCLA’s Datone Jones smiles through sad times
Video: Here’s a compilation of highlights from Jones’ games against Rice and Nebraska in 2012.