Friday, April 26, 2013

Packers get 1st round "sleeper" DE Datone Jones

Let's first admit: I got it wrong. My guess, as I posted in pre-draft entries here, was that the Green Bay Packers would trade down out of the the number 26 spot in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft to acquire additional picks. That's typically GM Ted Thompson's way of doing things. My updated guess is that, somehow, he's still going to wind up with more than the eight picks with which he started.

(Courtesy UCLA)

But that's not the point here. Thompson and the Packers stuck with their first round pick because there was someone on the board that they had targeted and, in fact, didn't think would still be available, according to Thompson. That player was indeed available when the Pack went on the clock. And they got him: UCLA DE Datone Jones. Welcome to the Packers, Mr. Jones. Glad to have you in the Green 'n' Gold, and wearing jersey number 95.

As the Packers' number finally came up in round one, ESPN displayed Mel Kiper Jr.s' 10 best picks still available...according to him, of course. Jones was nowhere to be seen on that list. When the selection was announced, former coach and current talking head, Jon Gruden, declared that this was his "sleeper" pick of the first round. He went on to say he thought the Packers got a great player who will add considerably to the defensive performance of the Pack. Personally, I tend to trust Gruden's instincts more than Kiper's.

As Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Packers writer extraordinaire, Bob McGinn, says in his article about Jones, "Jones, 6 feet 4 inches and 280 pounds, is the prototypical base end that teams with 3-4 schemes crave but the Packers have played without for the last four seasons." Ted Thompson, from the post-draft press conference, is quoted by McGinn as saying, "We talked about (Jones') length. I don't think that can drive your decision. But we were looking for something a little bit different than what we have." McGinn notes, "With (Jerel) Worthy doubtful to play a contributing role in 2013 because of reconstructive knee surgery in mid-January, Jones will be expected to become an immediate fixture in the nickel defense alongside either Neal or Raji."

How well that all shakes out come game days in the 2013 season remains to be seen. But the general consensus among fans and pundits alike last evening was that this was a needed and good selection for the Packers. For what it's worth, yours truly concurs. As more than one pundit noted after the pick, the Packers have been desperately seeking a replacement for the loss of Cullen Jenkins for the last several years; most think the Pack got that replacement last night with the selection of Jones.

How sweet that would be.

Go Pack Go!!!