The Green Bay Packers were 15-1 during the 2011 regular season, a truly monumental feat considering their defense was ranked last in the NFL as well as worst in the team’s history. After a quick exit in the playoffs against the Giants, one thing has been stuck front and center in Ted Thompson’s mind; find some defensive linemen that are more than just space eaters.
After the shock of that loss wore off, there was plenty of talk from the Packers defensive coaches during the early spring of 2012 about needing some “juice” out of the defensive line. Basically, finding a guy or two that can be more of a disruptor than a “hold your ground” guy. Someone who can collapse the pocket from the inside and help the Packers pathetic pass rush. Thompson has been trying ever since.
In March of 2012, Thompson took the unusual path (for him) of bringing in a few free agents, albeit low-risk gambles like Anthony Hargrove and Daniel Muir. He followed that up by drafting Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels a month later and then signing yet another free agent in May, Philip Merling.
Referring to the free agents, Hargrove showed little and was cut in camp. Daniel Muir had a surprisingly impressive training camp and was somewhat of a surprise cut on the final week. Merling stuck around until Mike Neal returned from his 4 game suspension and then was cut. No juice attained from those three.
The draft picks were a mixed bag. I wasn’t a fan of the Worthy draft pick myself, and he played to my expectations. If he has the will, the effort or the juice, he sure didn’t show it before landing on injured reserve. Mike Daniels was a pleasant surprise – I knew little of him other than he was undersized at 6’0″ and had been quite productive rushing the passer from inside at Iowa. Making the jump to the NFL, the massive offenive linemen he has to deal with on a consistent basis limits the impact Daniels is able to make at this level. However, used in the right situations, he brought a little juice with his quickness and got some pressure on the quarterback. He’s just not the every-down player the Packers need.
So, as the Packers approached the 2013 NFL draft, my feeling was they would be looking once again for some “juice” on the defensive line (and running back help). Back in April, in my mock draft prediction in the CheeseheadTV draft Guide, I had Jones as the Packers pick:
Datone Jones DE UCLA, 6’4”, 283lbs. Packers GM Ted Thompson, who eschews big-name free agents, did entertain thoughts of adding help at two positions this year, Defensive End and Running Back. With running back providing better value in later rounds, the Packers look to bolster their defensive line with perhaps the most well-rounded 3-4DE prospect in the draft. Jones has the strength to take on and shed double-teams as well as the initial burst to break through inside and collapse the pocket as a pass rusher. Alternate Choices: Sylvester Williams, Eddie Lacy.
It’s been only three days of camp and just one padded practice, but Jones is already garnering the accolades of his coaches and teammates. Jones is the real deal, people.
After practice Sunday, head coach Mike McCarthy said, “Everybody’s different, everybody’s built differently. You look at the way they carry their pads and the way they move in pads. I thought Datone looked very good, very comfortable. He’s in good shape.”
This is what I liked about Jones when I was watching video of him before the draft. He’s got size, strength, speed, smarts, desire and he’s a good citizen. Everything you could possibly ask for and just the kind of juice the Packers DL has needed.
Speaking about Jones, Packers DL Johnny Jolly said, “He’s looking good, man. He’s so fast, man, it’s not even funny.”
Jones will see plenty of action and as I said last week on CheeseheadTV’s Railbird Central with Brian Carriveau, he will be a starter by the middle of the season. For now, they’ve been working him some at DE, but mostly in the sub packages, paired with BJ Raji.
Of course, with the amount of time the Packers spend in sub packages, you can almost say he’ already a starter.
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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.
17 thoughts on “Datone Jones has “The Juice” the Packers Have Been Looking For at DL”
Man, this is exciting! I really do think this defense could end up being very good.
1. Perry’s improvement
2. Manning/Lattimore’s ability to replace Hawk
3. Jones’ becoming a Justin Smith Clone
4. McMillan/Jennings becoming a solid safety
5. Tramon reverting to form?
If even half these things happen on D (and IMO 1/2 at least will), the D will be solid. And with as good as the offense is going to be, that should be scary for opponents.
The 2013 GB Packers will be the best team we’ve seen since in GB for a long time.
One of the biggest improvements to the defense will be an improved running game.
Just curious how to cut your 5 into half. Two-and-a-half of those things… So let me add the play of Jones at ILB with a training camp to hone his skills at that position.
Bravo! When the running game gels, the D will be wicked! Playing with a lead and an OFFENSE THAT EATS CLOCK spells SUCCESS for a “D.”
I just hope everyone stays healthy.
And I’m excited about:
– Neal providing depth and flexibility
– Moses leading the pass rush to the promised land
I would also comment that our running game looks stronger than it has in years – probably dating back to Ahman Green. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all five RBs make the squad in favor of Kuhn….
Just hope we have some good strength and conditioning this year. With minimal injuries we are superbowl bound…
Jones worked on the kickoff coverage team today. That is ridiculous for a DL. He must be very fast.
With Dat-One, Perry, CM3 and a healthy Neal, the Packers actually some decent athletes up front, even by NFL standards. All those guy are ripped. Should make for a good team photo, but as TT might say; “that’s nice, but are they football players?” We know CM3 is and we should find out about the others soon.
Boy I hope you’re right Al. If I remember correctly Trag said the same thing about Worthy last season. Matter of fact he said those exact words. “Worthy has a little more juice than Devon Still, that’s why we picked Worthy, The Juice”. I think he has the Juice and then some! Raji, Jones, Perry, Matthews, and Neal, man that’s a lot of pass rushing ability!!
I wasn’t a Worthy believer and he hasn’t done enough to change my mind yet.
I agree. He looked really lost at times last season and I didn’t see the juice they spoke of. I keep thinking what this defense would have looked like with Raji, Still and Jones. Oh well, lets hope Worthy is able to come back strong by next season and take over for Pickett. Well maybe not take over but at least be a solid pro. At least we know with the Packers cautious medical staff, Worthy won’t be rushed.
I hope your right Al, TT will be redeeming himself, for the picks of Harrell and Worthy, and the release of Jenkins, on the DL, if Jones is the real deal. I’m getting excited to get a glimpse of this team, a week from Friday ,against Arizona.
Hey maybe Worthy will be a late bloomer. Shame about his knee, especially after reading about how much better Daniels is this year. Worthy can still be a “Good Pro” right?
I’m so pumped for this season, just so many possibilities to be excited about… Datone is definitely near the top of the list.
I’m actually excited about your avatar!
“Juice” must be the “in” word for the sports spinmeisters. During last year’s training camp, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert wrote that Anthony Hargrove, Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy would provide the “Juice” for the Packers’ “D.” See http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcnorth/post/_/id/41508/packers-offseason-the-search-for-juice. One year later and Hargrove is history, Worthy a forgotten man, and Perry is the one with the protective cast on his wrist. This year, it’s Datone Jones who supposedly will provide the “Juice.” I hope that he has better luck at it than last year’s juice-makers. Don’t forget, though, he’s just a rookie and rookies make rookie mistakes. Be patient. It takes time to blend quality juices.
defense should be better with a lot of rungs left to go “up” on the latter. Need improved run blocking by the same group of blockers we had last year. Could make a great QB even better.
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