After going defensive line with three of their first four picks last year, the Green Bay Packers went to that well again with the hope of greater results in UCLA end Datone Jones at pick No. 26 in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Last year, general manager Ted Thompson made a concerted attempt to inject a pass rush and front-seven presence and draw attention from outside linebacker Clay Matthews. The Packers took USC edge rusher Nick Perry in round one and Michigan State defensive lineman Jerel Worthy in round two. Unfortunately, Perry quickly hit injured reserve and Worthy struggled mightily at end the position in his rookie year.
Whether this serves as a referendum on Worthy remains to be seen but Jones, while extremely versatile, would ostensibly excel most as a 5-technique defensive end in a 3-4 base much like the Packers run. B.J. Raji has found success with an increase in snaps at the other 3-4 DE spot while Ryan Pickett has been decent at the nose.
In Jones, Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers has a 6-4, 280-plus pound pass-rushing force that can be moved from 5-technique to the interior and even further outside for subpackages. This should give Green Bay a wider spectrum of ways to draw attention away from Matthews, who has done an incredible job of generating pressure despite all attention focusing his direction.
Jones tallied 6.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss for the Bruins last year and penetrated opposing offensive lines from all over the front line. He could be the missing piece the Packers need to intimidate teams defensively on a consistent basis for the first time since their Super Bowl year.