2013 NFL Draft: Ted Thompson Gets His Guy

In the 2013 NFL Draft, Ted Thompson did what Ted Thompson does – sit patiently and wait for the talent and value to fall to him. And value is what fell to him in the form of DE Datone Jones out of UCLA.

Datone Jones looks to finally fill that gap left by Cullen Jenkins.

Datone Jones looks to finally fill that gap left by Cullen Jenkins.

Heading into the draft, the most glaring need was reinforcements on the defensive line. With Pickett nearing the end, Raji’s contract set to expire, and Worthy’s knee injury likely costing him 2013, the Packers had to bring in more talented and physical players. Enter Datone Jones.

Jones is a chiseled 6’4″, 285-lbs. and has the frame to add some more good weight. He has great short-yardage speed and known for a great get-off – evidenced by the best 20-yard shuttle at the combine. And for what it’s worth, he ran a 4.8 40-yard dash.

Because of his size-speed combination, he brings some versatility that Dom Capers will exploit by playing him over the tackle on early downs before standing him up over the middle, or wherever for that matter, on passing downs. And what should endear him to Packers fans is his motor. Bringing an edge from his background growing up in Compton, he’s a guy that plays with a chip on his shoulder, trying to prove himself on every play. And despite this tough background, he was a proven leader for UCLA while learning from Jim Mora, a former NFL head coach.

The glaring cons with Jones are that he mostly relies upon that initial burst and, like a lot of young players, he needs to improve on keeping his pad level lower. My initial reaction to this: please don’t be another Jerel Worthy – a guy that relied singularly on his speed to get upfield. And when that failed most of the time, he was taken out of the play.

Additionally, I can’t help but be a bit concerned that he is a touch undersized at 285 lbs. Most 3-4 DE’s are 300 lbs because they need to take the tackle head-on in early downs to help set the edge and maintain gap integrity. The positive in this is that he’s a strong 285 lbs. and can add good weight if the coaches think its necessary, which dissipates this concern somewhat.

Overall, though, I am pleased with this pick. It was the guy TT clearly had rated highest amongst a strong crop of available players – and in Ted I Trust. Plus, some scouts have compared him to J.J. Watt, which is obviously quite lofty (and potentially blasphemy in Wisconsin). But, it’s that kind of potential and skill set that makes this such an appealing pick. Packers fans should be excited about this selection and happy the Packers addressed the DL in the first round.

Day 2 Preview - 

On day 2, the Packers hold the 23rd (55th overall) selection in round 2 and 26th (88th overall) selection in round 3. And as we discussed earlier this week, the Packers have plenty of needs to fill out its roster. With seven selections remaining, including 2 in the fifth round, I would not be surprised to see Evil-TT reappear to trade up in either round to nab a player TT covets.

I can make one guarantee about what will happen on day 2 – TT will select a WR or TE. It’s TT’s mantra: Jordy, Jennings, Terrance Murphy, and Cobb were round-2 selections, while Jones and JMike were round 3 selections. And with Jennings’ departure, looming contracts expiring with Jordy and Jones, and JMike’s future unknown, the Packers should bring in another weapon. Thankfully, day-2 should offer plenty of value at WR or TE.

Wideouts like Keenan Allen (Cal), Robert Woods (USC), Markus Wheaton (Ore. St.), and Quinton Patton (La. Tech) are viable options that would likely interest TT. Wheaton, in particular, is a guy to watch for in the third round. He’s got top-end speed with good hands and  toughness. He’s a bit undersized, but that’s never scared TT away. As for the TE’s,  Zach Ertz, the stud from Standford, remains, but he’ll be long gone before we can get him. Instead, I’m targeting Jordan Reed, the Aaron Hernandez clone, that can line up all over the field, literally: TE, slot, split out, H-back, and even RB. McCarthy would have some fun with him.

But, for round 2, I foresee the Packers sticking to the defense and continuing to target players that bring a level of toughness so desperately needed. In fact, my prediction is the Packers add another defensive lineman, probably a DT, in the second. With the likes of Tank Carradine (so much for that media hype I fell for) and Margus Hunt (SMU) offering terrific value at DE, and Jesse Williams (Alabama), John Jenkins (Georgia), Johnathan Hankins (OSU), and Kawann Short (Purdue) are still very quality DT’s, any of which would be great additions.

If the Packers look outside the DL, I still think they stick to the defensive side of the ball. With only two linebackers and three safeties taken, there are plenty of talent remaining that would fit the bill. Guys like Arthur Brown (KSU) and Kevin Minter (LSU) would challenge A.J. Hawk (or Brad Jones I guess) at ILB, and John Cyprien (Fla. Intl.), D.J. Swearinger (S. Car.), and J.J. Wilcox (Ga. Southern) would bring more competition to the starting safety spot opposite Burnett.

My fearless predictions: Round 2: John Jenkins and Round 3: Jordan Reed – TT trades up into early round 3 to get Reed.

Packers had a successful day 1, nabbing a talented and tough DE that should do well paired with Clay, Raji, and Perry. And if the Packers snag another defensive linemen, the Packers may start to develop a fearsome line that can create some havoc.

As always, enjoy the draft and be sure to check back here for our day 2 review and day 3 preview. Go Pack Go!

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