The Green Bay Packers selected UCLA defensive end Datone Jones with the 26th pick of the NFL Draft Thursday.
It was the first time in seven years that a Bruin was drafted in the first round, not since tight end Marcedes Lewis was taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2006.
Jones, the 6-4, 280-pounder, has had a remarkable run to finish off his UCLA career. He had 62 tackles, an impressive 19 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in his senior season, but generally wasn't considered a first round pick. He then blew up at the Senior Bowl, kept improving his stock at the NFL Combine, and NFL prognosticators started mentioning his name as a first-rounder. He
Jones came to UCLA as a prized prospect out of Compton High School, a four-star
ranked #23 by Scout.com and an Offense-Defense All-American, and the #3-ranked
defensive end in the West.
He committed to UCLA in March of 2007 as a junior, originally to Karl Dorrell.
When Dorrell was let go, Jones visited Arizona State, Oregon and Colorado, but
ultimately signed with the Bruins that February.
Jones started some as a true freshman for UCLA in 2008 and then as a sophomore
in 2009. He was poised to be a dominant player the next fall but fractured his right foot in the fall practice game and missed the 2010 season. He didn't seem to recover completely, or find his niche truly until his senior season, when it call came together for him. The tutelage of defensive line coach Angus McClure, and the coach's emphasis on martial arts, along with the confidence and versatility Jones gained in playing various positions in UCLA's 3-4 defense, made him a different player as a senior.
With Jones ending UCLA's 7-year dry spell without a player drafted in the first round, a new streak could be established of first-round Bruins. In the 2014 NFL Draft you can expect linebacker Anthony Barr to easily be a first-round pick, while junior offensive lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo also a clear possibility if he declares a year early.