Aaron Rodgers can sling the ball all over the yard for the Green Bay Packers, but if their defense doesn’t take a serious step forward in 2013, it will be all for naught once again. That defense was thoroughly exposed at different points throughout the 2012 season, but none showcased their weakness more than the Divisional Playoff tilt with Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers.
Clearly the team took notice of these shortcomings in the NFL Draft as they added a versatile defender to the mix with their round one selection in former UCLA Bruin Datone Jones. At 6’4” 283lbs., there are a variety of places that Jones could be used with the Packers defensively in their multi-look unit under coordinator Dom Capers. He will likely be the starter at one defensive end position in the 3-4 base set, but if they shift to a 4-3 look, there’s no telling where Jones may line up. He is capable of shifting inside and being effective at collapsing the pocket as a tackle or lining up on the edge and bull rushing smaller linemen.
Jones is likely to line up at the right defensive end spot to begin the season with Ryan Pickett at nose tackle and B.J. Raji at the other end position. This trio will have a huge impact on opponents’ game plans leading up to the game week after week due to their multiple ways of changing a given contest. Jones will be the nightmare for any running teams with his knack for wrapping up ball carriers in tight quarters or chasing them on the edge and dragging them down if necessary.
Training camp will be where the rookie puts everything together and really gets incorporated into the defensive system. His abilities will be on full display on a daily basis for the coaching staff, and they will be chomping at the bit to see what his potential can bring to the field in live game action.
It may not be a stretch to say that Jones could be the Defensive Rookie of the Year in the league this coming season. His numbers won’t be staggering, but if he can help change the team’s strategy from being involved in a shootout on a weekly basis to a more traditional football game, Jones’ impact will be exactly what the Packers need to get back on top of the NFC.