First Round, 26th Pick
Datone Jones isn't going to jump off of the screen as an edge-rusher, but that doesn't mean that he won't make life harder for quarterbacks and offensive linemen. Learn why a team that prefers dirty work to flash from their defensive ends will love Jones and perhaps make him a first-round pick this year.
Jones is a massive, strong defensive end who fires off of the snap into violent collisions with offensive linemen that he usually wins by staying low and hitting hard. He often knifes into the backfield to disrupt running plays and can change direction in the open field much better than his size would suggest he could. Jones' motor runs hot, and he can make plays with perseverance when his initial attack fails. He is a handful for any blocker and often draws holds with the endless fight in his game.
Jones is not a quick twitch edge-rusher, and he isn't able to bend and turn the corner well enough to be an effective outside rusher in the pros. His high cut build makes it tougher for him to anchor against the run, especially when his pad level gets too high. While he exhibits ideal pad level off of the snap, Jones can then get too high and lose leverage, especially when he is rushing the passer.
Jones' aggression can also take him out of plays when he penetrates too far upfield without awareness. He can be so eager to get upfield that he loses his balance and ends up on the ground way too easily.
At 6'4", 283 pounds with a leggy frame that could add more weight along with 29 bench press reps, Jones' natural size and strength will make him difficult to deal with. His 10" hands will help with the battles in the trenches. A 4.32 short shuttle was one of the best times among all defensive ends, and his 4.8 40 was better than some linebacker prospects. On the whole, Jones is a very good athlete for his body type.
Jones is a glass-eater who works hard, loves the game and has a high football IQ. His awareness of plays and where the ball is going leaves something to be desired. Any team thinking about taking Jones won't find a reason to back off when they examine who he is as a human being.
Jones has lined up everywhere from a zero tech nose tackle in pass situations to a stand-up pass-rusher. He usually lines up right over a guard or offensive tackle and fits in just about every defensive front and scheme.
Jones is at his best when he is squaring off one-on-one against an offensive lineman and tries to bull-rush or even simply throw the blocker aside. As an edge-rusher, he can't twist his hips to get around the offensive tackle and put pressure on the quarterback. Jones has the agility to stunt and twist, but his other moves just aren't very explosive. He also fails to disengage and get his arms up to disrupt passing lanes. He'll create sacks for others by collapsing the pocket and occasionally collect one of his own with his motor, but Jones is not a great pass-rusher on film. All that being said, when Jones does get a quarterback lined up, he buries him.
Against the Run
Jones can hold up at the point of attack when he stays low, but as soon as he gets high, he can be moved, creating a big hole for a running back. He will pursue down the line like a linebacker and cleans up a few plays a game on the strength of that effort.
Once Jones has his scope locked on a ball-carrier or quarterback, he engulfs them. His arms are strong enough to stop a running back going through the hole, and he wraps up like a boa constrictor. Jones can sense when he has his quarry in his sights and will launch his body to make the play.
Use of Hands
When Jones gets his hands on his opponent before they latch onto him, he can throw them aside like yesterday's garbage. He is not as good at disengaging from blockers who hold him, including getting his arms free to attempt to deflect a pass. Jones doesn't have much subtlety as a pass-rusher when it comes to hand use. It appears that he needs some coaching in this area.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Jones be a jack-of-all-trades for his NFL team. He can play end on run downs and move inside to generate pressure against guards and centers on passing down. Jones' best fit is probably in a 3-4 with his length and strength, but multiple front teams will also love his skill set and experience.