At the Senior Bowl earlier this year, offensive tackle Eric Fisher of Central Michigan, who ended up being the No.1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, was having some issues stopping his opponent in practice drills. His opponent? Datone Jones of UCLA.
Jones was the one guy who made Fisher look quite pedestrian in his blocking ability.
Jones knew that the Senior Bowl was a big stage for him to compete against the best of the best in college football. Jones talked about his success at the Senior Bowl at the NFL Scouting Combine, via Packers.com.
"I feel I showed the world who Datone Jones was", Jones said. "I've always known it, my coaches back home have known it, everyone I played with have known it, so I feel like I just showed the public going against the best talent across the country. I feel I showed everyone who I really was."
Jones certainly caught my eye with his performance at the Senior Bowl. I had the Packers taking Jones in my final mock draft.
It wasn't just Jones' performance at the Senior Bowl, either. Jones had a great senior year at UCLA, where he had 62 tackles, a whopping 19 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two blocked kicks.
Add to that his great combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds, plus his 29 reps in the bench press.
Jones also obviously caught the attention of Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers, as the team selected him with the 26th pick of the first round last night.
Thompson talked about what he liked about Jones in his press conference via Packers.com.
"We added another good athlete and a guy with a little bit more speed," said Thompson. "When you can add a little speed to the defense, we feel it's a good idea."
That speed can come in handy. "He's explosive off the line of scrimmage," said Thompson. "He's got the ability to close on the ball. He's a good-looking kid. He's an athletic guy."
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was equally impressed, especially knowing he can count on Jones for all three downs. “You’d like to have a guy that can potentially play all three downs for you,” Capers said, “and we think he has those types of abilities.”
Jones was excited to get picked by the Packers as well, as he spoke to the media after his selection via PackersNews.com.
"Growing up my childhood team was I liked the Giants and the Packers," Jones said. "So when I finally saw the Green Bay Packers come up on my screen, oh my gosh I almost fainted man because it’s such a dream come true to be able to play for the Packers and greats from the past like Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji and to have Aaron Rodgers as a quarterback is so surreal.”
Jones also talked about his versatility.
“Just being versatile and being able to lineup anywhere on the field, and being able to produce at those positions. I only play the game one way," Jones said. "When I was younger I heard the saying about Reggie White. He didn’t want to know what was going on in the backfield. He didn’t want to know the personnel. The only thing he knew was to beat the guy across from him and that’s the way I grew up playing this game. I put my pads on and I played, and the reason I’m so versatile is because I played one way. I just want to defeat the man across from me and make the play.”
Bottom line, the Packers added a player that the defense sorely needs: a play-maker on the defensive line. I'm sure there will be some friendly banter going on between Jones and a couple of his new teammates (Clay Matthews and Nick Perry) who went to UCLA's main rival, USC.
"Oh yeah man, I know they’re going to give me so much trouble," Jones joked. "Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, man, but you know we’re all on the same side of the ball. Hopefully they don’t give me too much trouble. One thing I can say, I’m the first guy drafted out of California this year, so I feel like we won that rivalry already."
The Packers are hoping the joke will be on their opponents in 2013 with the addition of Jones to the defensive arsenal led by Matthews and company.
Jones is definitely psyched about playing for the Packers with all their tradition. Reggie White certainly added to that tradition.
"Just knowing him and watching a lot of him when I was growing up, all I know is Reggie White played one way, and that was with maniacal effort and just complete hunger," Jones said. "No matter who he lined up against, he wanted to dominate. And that’s the type of player I want to carry myself after, just a player that wants to dominate at whatever he does and wants to win. I hate losing and I’m happy to come to an organization like Green Bay, with a winning tradition. To be able to play at Lambeau Field is crazy. I’m so hyped up right now already. I just want to play."