Datone Jones, Defensive End
I was a big fan of Datone Jones during the draft process in 2013. He is a long, athletic 5-tech who could produce on the field and had the frame to add bulk – but in his 3 years in the NFL Jones has struggled to break into the starting lineup while the likes of Mike Daniels emerged around him and Julius Peppers continuing to play longer than many thought.
The lack of playing time (just 3 starts in 3 years and only 35% of defensive snaps last season) may have stunted his development as a player, but I have a lot of faith that he can begin to realise some of his draft day potential in 2016. Once again Green Bay have left Clay Matthews in the middle of the defense as an inside linebacker, so there is space both on the outside and inside in the Green Bay pressure package available, and Jones has shown his ability to get to the quarterback. While his 3 sacks last season look awful he hit the QB 12 times. While that is a poor conversion rate it was still the 3rd most hits the Packers had behind Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. Jones needs more playing time to get his production up, I think he can do it but will the Packers give it to him in 2016.
This is Jones playing as the left outside linebacker. A 280lb player shouldn’t be standing up but Jones does it and he tracks the play well. It’s far from his usual and more natural position of hand down and inside the tackle but this kind of versatility and utility helps demonstrate just why I feel Jones can have a breakout year. It might not show on his stat sheet due to having to race Julius Peppers to the quarterback, but if given a larger slice of playing time he can definitely influence plays on a more regular basis.