Datone Jones had an excellent senior season at UCLA, totaling 6.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss playing in an aggressive defensive scheme implemented by head coach Jim Mora Jr. He missed the entire 2010 season after breaking his right foot, but leaving that out he started all 41 games over his final three healthy collegiate seasons.
Jones is widely projected a mid-to-late first-round pick right now, and Pete Prisco of CBS Sports.com has him going to the Minnesota Vikings with the 23rd overall pick in his most recent mock draft. The Vikings are facing some potential transition along the defensive line after the 2013 season, so adding a young player to the mix early in this month’s draft should be on their radar.
Would Jones be a good fit for Minnesota? Let’s start with a look at his measurements, strengths and weaknesses.
Weight: 283 lbs.
– Is a well-built athlete-looks the part
– Shows explosive initial burst; is able to penetrate gaps effectively
– Has strong, active hands-shows a wide array of pass rush moves
– Plays with good power; holds up well against the run
– Shows good awareness and effort in pursuit; plays with a high motor
– Lacks ideal speed and flexibility
– Tends to his raise pad level coming off the ball, leading to lost leverage
– Is a bit of a defensive end/defensive tackle tweener
– Struggles to disengage when blockers lock onto him
Jones’ overall versatility makes him a potentially appealing player for a lot of teams, regardless of their base defensive scheme. The Vikings could see him a backup to left end Brian Robison right out of the gate, and he could play inside on passing downs to help bolster their interior pass rush next to Kevin Williams.
Using a first-round pick on Jones looks like a bit of a reach to me for Minnesota, particularly since defensive lineman that are a better fit should still be on the board at 23rd and 25th overall.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.