nfl draft

Tom Oates: Datone Jones the right step for Packers

2013-04-26T11:00:00Z Tom Oates: Datone Jones the right step for PackersTOM OATES | Wisconsin State Journal | toates@madison.com | 608-252-6172 madison.com

GREEN BAY — If the Green Bay Packers needed a reminder that they must become a bigger, tougher, more physical football team, they got it when the NFL schedule came out last week.

First up for the Packers in the fall? The San Francisco 49ers.

That would be the same 49ers team that opened and closed the Packers’ 2012 season by physically pounding them into submission twice.

If San Francisco was simply a bad matchup for Green Bay, there wouldn’t be overwhelming cause for alarm on Lombardi Avenue. These were not isolated cases, however.

In four of the Packers’ six losses last season — to the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco twice — they were mauled by bigger, more physical teams. Coupled with their dreadful playoff performance against the Giants that put a shocking end to their 2011 season, the evidence simply became too great to ignore.

The elite teams in the NFC have become extremely physical while the Packers have gone in the opposite direction. Coach Mike McCarthy bristles at the suggestion his team isn’t physical, but it has become clear that if the Packers want to regain control of the NFC, they can’t keep playing finesse football.

The Packers have to run and they have to stop the run. They have to keep pass rushers off Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked more often than any quarterback in the NFL last season. They have to start regularly winning the line of scrimmage again.

Fortunately for the Packers, the NFL draft that began Thursday night played right into their hands. It was a meat-and-potatoes draft, short on star power but loaded with big linemen on both sides of the ball. Since the Packers need beef along both lines, they figured to find a lineman who could help them stand up to their fellow NFC powers.

That’s exactly what happened. Despite having needs elsewhere, general manager Ted Thompson seemed determined to improve one of his lines with the 26th pick in the first round. An early run on offensive linemen probably forced Thompson’s hand. He was left with a quality selection of defensive linemen and quickly chose Datone Jones, a 6-foot-3 7/8, 285-pound defensive end from UCLA.

After using his first six picks on defense last year, Thompson went back to that side of the ball with his first-rounder this year. As usual, he rejected any suggestion he picked for need.

“We didn’t go into it like that today, not at all,” he said. “Especially later in the draft, you’re concentrating on quality as much as you can.”

It remains to be seen if Jones will provide the quality Thompson wants. He does, however, fill in many holes for the Packers.

First, he’s a versatile, disruptive player who can play multiple positions on the line. Indeed, the Packers may have finally replaced Cullen Jenkins, who was allowed to leave in free agency following the Super Bowl-winning 2010 season.

Second, he is the first end the Packers have had with the height they desire. When coordinator Dom Capers was hired in 2009 and installed the Pittsburgh-style 3-4 defense, he talked about having tall ends with the length and bulk to hold the edge but also the speed and athleticism to rush the passer.

Third, they added much-needed size in the defensive line. Remember, the Packers took two defensive linemen in last year’s draft, but second-rounder Jerel Worthy and fourth-rounder Mike Daniels were short, quick, pass-rusher types. Jones is big enough to play on any down; he’s not a situational player.

Finally, Jones should make an immediate impact with the Packers because he played in a similar defensive scheme at UCLA.

“He’s a very versatile player,” Thompson said. “He was all up and down the line of scrimmage at UCLA. He should be able to fit in and help our group out.”

To do that, Jones must buck the trend of Thompson’s defensive-line draft picks, perhaps the only hole in the general manager’s stellar drafting resume with the Packers.

Though inconsistent, nose tackle B.J. Raji has largely lived up to his billing as a top-10 pick. However, 2007 first-round tackle Justin Harrell was an injury-plagued bust, 2010 second-round pick Mike Neal is heading in the same direction and Worthy was a disappointment last year prior to a season-ending knee injury.

If Jones eventually becomes a taller version of Jenkins, the Packers did indeed take a good first step toward becoming a more physical team Thursday.

Contact Tom Oates at toates@madison.com or 608-252-6172.

Copyright 2014 madison.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(21) Comments

  1. Hogzilla
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    Hogzilla - April 29, 2013 12:32 am
    Jesus! The level of insight here is just atrocious. If you want to have a serious talk about football, head on over to football's future dot com.

    Sorry Tom, you are a good journalist, but these comments crush my spirit. :)
  2. truedat
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    truedat - April 27, 2013 11:38 pm
    I disagree...that defense that year was far more effective than the last two. Charles Woodson anyone?
  3. truedat
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    truedat - April 27, 2013 11:36 pm
    Eeeehhhh, I dunno....agreed the line is not elite. But, remember when benson was healthy and starting to develop a role, we had a run game. And a run/pass dual threat.
  4. Arturo
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    Arturo - April 27, 2013 5:19 pm
    Oates is a total hack. He's fine when he's wearing his little UW cheer-leading outfit and writing his little u -rah-rah On Wisconsin , Alverez owns my spine stories. But his ax grinding Thompson articles are a joke and he himself contradicts them every other week.

    "....lives and breathes Packer football for 9 months of the year...." That is freaking hilarious.
  5. Arturo
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    Arturo - April 27, 2013 5:13 pm
    Rodgers, not Rogers, was the only reason the Packers won the Super Bowl? Really? A defense that gave up the 5th least amount of yards and the 2nd least amount of points in the NFL was because of Rodgers? Shields, Matthews, Collins , Williams , Starks , Raji, Woodson , Jenkins. Nelson, Bishop , Jennings.......they just stood around watching Rodgers, eh? True football genius at work here.
  6. Crow Barr
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    Crow Barr - April 27, 2013 5:12 pm
    Badgie in no-where's, how do you sleep at night being so full of yourself?? In sports talk, I'm gonna guess you have a bat and two balls that have not been played in a long time!

    How does Datone say his name? Day-tone? Dah-tone? Dat-one? Dato-nee?

  7. Badger in Lexington
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    Badger in Lexington - April 27, 2013 11:18 am
    Has to with knowing sports are more than just stats nerd, I doubt you'd know that as I'm sure your an arm chair qb while guys like me actually played n didn't just wish we were good enough.
  8. driftlessminds
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    driftlessminds - April 26, 2013 1:25 pm
    The article addresses the Packers concern with their defensive line, and how Datone Jones may address some of the issues. As such, it seems obvious that Oates was saying the Packers were "mauled" not because of the margin of victory, but by opposing teams' defensive line (defensive lines the Packers hope they can mirror). With that said, I still don't see how playing D1 baseball has any relation to analyzing the Packers need on defensive line and/or the impact of their first round draft pick.
  9. Report Abuse
    - April 26, 2013 1:24 pm
    Plenty of scouts had this guy rated around 25-32 range, or late first round.
  10. Report Abuse
    - April 26, 2013 1:23 pm
    The answer to the running game Isn't a different back. The answer is the O-line.
    AP couldn't run behind the line we have. Rodgers has been hit, sacked, hurried, flushed more than Any QB in the league the past 2 years, behind this group. GB really needed to draft O-line, but there was such a run on them in the picks ahead of us, that the quality just wasn;t there at the 26th pick. We filled another big need with Jones at DE, so it was a good pick at that point. The other option would have been to trade down and pick up 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round picks as NE did with Minn at 29. You can pick up a number of really good linemen in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and we still can and Should with our next 2 picks.
  11. seered
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    seered - April 26, 2013 1:17 pm
    Both the DL and the OL have been a problem at GB forever! Granted TT has tried but either he is getting bad scouting info or he is just unlucky. But if he refuses to sign FA's he better turn up his drafting system several ticks, which has not produced good linemen results.
    The players he has drafted in the first rounds have not performed like 1st rounders yet, and others just dont get it or have it to play at this level....either way poor selecting TED.

    The Jones dude looks good on paper but..............lets hope so.

    We will not get to another super bowl until both lines are fixed! The only reason we won the SB a couple years back was MR Rogers. Both lines still sucked!
  12. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - April 26, 2013 11:00 am
    "[Thompson] quickly chose Datone Jones, a 6-foot-3 7/8, 285-pound defensive end ..."

    If you're going to go with the ridiculous degree of precision implied by those eighths of an inch, why not go all the way and mention that he tips the scales at 284 pounds, 13 ounces?
  13. truedat
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    truedat - April 26, 2013 11:00 am
    regarding the seattle game, theres a bunch of reasons that game was lost. The last play was just icing on the cake.

    Never should have came to that, and what's his name in the endzone shouldn't have tried to catch it. Should have swatted it.
  14. truedat
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    truedat - April 26, 2013 10:58 am
    the pack needs to address their running game, and Olne, and RB eaually if not more as they do the defense. The problem with a pass happy offense, ESPECIALLY in the NFL, is that the players on the other side of the ball (defense), in practice, never have there manhood questioned.

    That attitude is developed as a culture of the team. The offense also has to protect rogers with a run game, and action, and play action passes, and screens. Part of that is on McCarthy. You throw the ball 55 times a game....well, if the other team has a good running game and solid D, you're screwed. Cuz they have an answer for you, and you don't for them.
  15. Badger in Lexington
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    Badger in Lexington - April 26, 2013 10:53 am
    Badger93
    Typical response by an ex jv athlete, u stat nerds keep at it fact is it's a game the pack won and had stollen by the officials. That doesn't qualify as a mauling chump! Yes they gave up sacks but a mauling? Come on...
    Feel free to keep regurgitating stats from stands while guys like me actually played sports and know a hell of a lot more than guys like u stat boy. Where'd u play college or pro mr watch from my couch? While u were wishing u had what it takes to play guys like me were on the field actually playing! D1 baseball in the sec and 5 years of minors ball here, u? But stick to ur stats nerd!
  16. badgers93
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    badgers93 - April 26, 2013 9:46 am
    The only hack I see is Badger in Lexington. Yes the final score in Seattle was close and the Packers should've won the game, but as driftless points out, the Packers allowed a TON of sacks in that game. Maybe if they hadn't allowed all of those sacks the hail mary wouldn't have been possible and the Packers would've won easily. So before you go ripping the writer how about checking the facts a little closer. Obviously a hack like you that watches games from his living room knows A LOT more than the beat writer who goes to practices, talks to players and coaches, goes to games and lives and breathes Packer football for 9 months of the year.
  17. awooof
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    awooof - April 26, 2013 9:41 am
    Hoping he is the next KGB type player! Sad to think BJ Raji, Pickett and Jolly are in "poor" physical shape to start the 2013 campaign. Get ready for work!
  18. get49
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    get49 - April 26, 2013 9:40 am
    I agree, Seattle's Dline manhandled the Pack's Oline for pretty much the whole game.
  19. driftlessminds
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    driftlessminds - April 26, 2013 8:39 am
    Badger - If I remember correctly, the Seahawks had 8 sacks against the Packers last September. Notwithstanding the final score, I consider that a mauling by Seattle's defensive line.
  20. Badger in Lexington
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    Badger in Lexington - April 26, 2013 7:45 am
    Really the seahawks mauled the pack? Anyone else remember them getting mauled by Seattle?
    Oates your a hack, they beat GB by a fluke missed interception call...
  21. rafeUW
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    rafeUW - April 26, 2013 7:35 am
    Hope this is a pick that mirrors the Clay Matthews selection. Clearly all the pundits didn't have this guy on the radar in the first round. The reaction from Jon Gruden was telling. He essentiallly called this his "sleeper of the draft" and thinks he will make a great pro. Remember Gruden's prediction on Russell Wilson last year? How'd that work out for Seattle? If Jones has half the impact with the Packers this year that Wilson had with the Seahawks, I will be very happy.
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