Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson is one of the best in the business at drafting, and he has to be due to his ridiculous policy of not making key moves to help the team in free agency. Anyway, Thompson usually “hits” on most of his picks, as he does an excellent job of identifying collegiate talent. Although it’s far too early to call anyone a bust, the early returns on former UCLA Bruins star defensive lineman Datone Jones have not been good.
Jones was the Packers first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and he was supposed to make an immediate impact as the 26th pick overall. He had a very impressive career at UCLA and was viewed as a top-notch pass rusher and solid run defender, but he has been neither this season and has been a flop early on in his NFL career. Jones is a versatile, athletic, bigger DL who theoretically fits in perfectly as a 3-4 DE for the Packers, but things haven’t gone smoothly for him. He hasn’t had one good game this season, and he has barely played this year due to his ineffectiveness. Not only has he utterly failed to put consistent pressure on the quarterback, but he’s been well below-average in run defense.
That said, Thompson doesn’t sound to worried about Jones, and he even stated that he’s “happy” with the work Jones has done this season. When evaluating each of the rookies of significance on the Packers roster, Thompson stated, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Bob McGinn, “I think he’s done a pretty good job. He’s kind of in the sub package stuff. Early, early on in camp he had an injury (ankle) that seemed to set him back pretty good. He’s battled through it and contributed. Sure, he can be (a base end). Yes, I am (happy with him). Those (big) guys are hard to find.”
Nobody should have expected to hear Thompson say anything bad about any of his rookies, and this isn’t a ringing endorsement. It still is surprising to hear Thompson say that he’s done a “pretty good job”, but it is telling that Thompson said that he’s “kind of in sub package stuff”. Kind of? Yeah, that doesn’t sound too good, but it’s accurate since Jones has been just about invisible as a rookie.
I’m not worried about Jones yet, and you can never give up on a prospect until a player has flopped for three seasons. Jones has talent and should be a very solid 3-4 DE for the Packers, but I can’t see how the Packers are happy with him, nor can I see how his ankle injury is an excuse for his rough start. He’s too talented to continue playing like this, but we’ll all definitely be keeping an eye on him in 2014; his rookie season is a lot cause unless if he can have a huge breakout in the playoffs, which would be a very welcome sight.