Editor's Note: Promoted FanPost
NESN provides insight on the top 10 potential first round picks by the Patriots with this slideshow but I will take what they list and provide further analysis on a potential selection by the Patriots and how they would fit into the offensive or defensive schemes. Without further ado, here is #10:
Datone Jones, Defensive End, University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA)
Weight: 280 lbs
Arm length: 32 1/4"
Hand length: 9 3/4"
40-yard dash: 4.82
Datone Jones is more of a 4-3 defensive end than as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Since the Patriots play more than 55% of their snaps in their nickel and dime defense, base defensive alignments are irrelevant. Jones possesses great explosion off the edge, making life difficult for opposing Pac-12 offensive tackles. In his Senior Bowl performance, he was able to challenge some of the top OT prospects on the North team and impressed scouts to the point where he is entering the draft as a top 20 pick. Currently ranked #21 on CBS' big board, he might not be available for the Patriots.
Ideally in his rookie year, he would slide into the strong side (shaded over the right tackle) defensive end spot in their base package and could end up playing on the inside in the sub packages, similar to what the Patriots have employed Jermaine Cunningham and Justin Francis to do in 2012 as a "tweener." Two seasons removed from a season-ending foot injury, Jones' upside would bring excellent value to the Patriots, even if they were to trade up in the first round to ensure they get their man. Perhaps he could be the guy that is able to help solve the Patriots pass rush, which can disappear completely against. playoff-caliber offensive lines.
2012 Stats: 14 games, 62 tackles, 19.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 2 hurries, 2 FF, 2 kicks/punts blocked (courtesy of cfbstats.com)
Rob Rang's Analysis on Strength's and Weaknesses (courtesy of cbssports.com)
STRENGTHS: Well-built athlete with long arms and good strength, throughout. Flashes an explosive initial burst off the snap to penetrate gaps. Uses his hands well at the snap to rip free from blocks, showing a variety of pass rush techniques (swim, rip, club), as well as enough power to simply bull over offensive linemen into the backfield.
Keeps his head up and locates the football quickly, showing good awareness and effort in pursuit. Has the upper-body strength to lock-out opponents and seal the edge. Stout enough to slide inside to defensive tackle, especially on obvious pass rush downs. Enjoyed a breakout senior campaign and may be just scratching the surface of his potential.
WEAKNESSES: A classic 'tweener who until his senior season hadn't ever lived up to expectations. Lacks the sustained speed and flexibility to turn the corner as a traditional 4-3 defensive end. Lacks the bulk to handle full-time duties as a traditional defensive tackle. Has a tendency to stand up as he comes off the ball, losing out on the leverage battle. Uses his hands well initially but tires quickly and struggles to disengage once his opponent has locked on.
COMPARES TO: Robert Ayers, DE, Denver Broncos -- Like Ayers, Jones has flashed talent throughout his collegiate career but has been racked with inconsistency. His versatility and big senior season could push a team to gamble on his upside early.
Thoughts on Strengths and Weaknesses: Jones definitely does not have a clear label on what type of player he projects to be; however, the versatility to play both defensive end in base defense and defensive tackle in sub packages is what is valued here. Teams will be very intrigued about the different possibilities they can use him for, and can to mix and match different sets to take advantage of his quick bursts and good upper body strength. Perhaps the Patriots in back to back drafts select a player without gaudy stats and sky high potential in the first round who is another defensive end with the surname of Jones.
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