Not many, if any, people would agree, but rookie first-round pick Datone Jones is calling his first season with the Green Bay Packers a success.
It was a season that saw Jones register just 10 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He was really only used on third down and actually lost playing time to another rookie, Josh Boyd, down the stretch.
None of that matters to Jones, though.
“I thought I did really good,” Jones said. “I was able to really help out a lot on third down. In the pass department, I was second on our defensive line in sacks; and we have a big veteran group. So I thought I played pretty well this year and I got better every week.”
There was a report during the season that Jones wasn’t quite picking things up as quickly as the Packers had hoped. That seems to jive with the reduced number of snaps as the season wore on.
Of course, Jones says he’ll be better next season.
“I’m just saying it right now, next year I’ll be a whole other player,” Jones said. “I won’t look the same, my body won’t look the same, I’ll be bigger, stronger, faster. That mental next step, I’ll have it. I’m excited. I know I’m going to have a good year next year. Nothing’s going to slow me down.”
The Packers will need him to be better. There are a lot of question marks on the defensive line at the moment. The team’s three starters — Johnny Jolly, B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett — are all unrestricted free agents. C.J. Wilson is a also a free agent.
If none of those guys return, the Packers currently only have Jones, Boyd, Mike Daniels and Jerel Worthy on the roster. Obviously, they’re going to need more than four defensive linemen, but Jones could see his role increase dramatically next season just out of necessity.