A few months ago the Dallas Cowboys defensive line looked about locked-in.
DeMarcus Lawrence’s spot at end remains unquestioned, David Irving and Maliek Collins were set to man the inside, and a slew of upside-type guys like Taco Charlton would compete for the RDE spot.
As usual, however, things have gotten a bit crazy along the Cowboys defensive front. Randy Gregory has been reinstated and has rejoined the Cowboys, defensive tackle Maliek Collins’ health is very much in question, and David Irving may miss all of training camp. Oh, and Irving is also suspended the first four games of the season.
But, as the old football cliche goes, it’s time for the “next man up.” The Cowboys now must look to some under-the-radar candidates to compete across their defensive line. And while they did trade for defensive lineman Jihad Ward just a couple of months ago, it’s another tackle on the roster you should keep your eye on.
That player is Datone Jones.
The former first round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2013, Jones joined the Cowboys in 2017 after being released by the San Francisco 49ers. Jones was forced out of position a bit in Green Bay, and never really recovered from those early setbacks.
Still, during his short tenure with the Cowboys last season, Datone Jones was productive and intriguing. At 6’5″ and nearly 290 pounds, Datone Jones is the ideal prototype to play 3-technique in Rod Marinelli’s defense. He has experience bouncing around at both end and tackle, but should settle in nicely at 3-technique in David Irving’s absence from the team.
Jones is a powerful and disruptive player who often found himself around the ball during his four games last season. Though he only recorded 9 sacks in four years with the Packers, Jones is a much cleaner fit within the Cowboys’ defensive scheme.
Of course, this could all just end up being worthless camp speculation. Jones could come out during the preseason and disappoint, losing out to Jihad Ward as many around the organization seem to believe will happen based on their decision making.
But, regardless, Datone Jones is a name to remember and a player to watch as we move through both training camp and the preseason, and the Cowboys look to bolster the interior of their defensive line.