The Dallas Cowboys added depth to their defensive line yesterday, moving on from RB Darren McFadden and replacing him with veteran DL Datone Jones. The Cowboys will be Jones' fourth team of this 2017 season, ending up in San Francisco most recently to appear in three games for the 49ers.
I fired up the tape from Jones' limited work with the 49ers this season to study what the 27-year-old lineman can bring to Dallas.
One area the Cowboys have been trying to address is their depth at defensive tackle, where Stephen Paea's unexpected retirement earlier in the season forced them to align Maliek Collins at the 1T and work David Irving almost exclusively at the 3T.
Datone Jones is a powerful player that plays with solid pad level and surprising quickness. Jones excels at working his hands inside of a blocker to drive them, although he does lack the true strength in his hands to disengage as often as you would like.
When playing as a defensive end, Jones does well to capture the edge with some initial burst as he often looks to overpower his man back into the quarterback. Datone's true pass rush moves are extremely limited.
In run defense, Jones plays with an incredibly high motor and will always flow to the football – even when being forced to rush up the field off the snap. The LDE on the play above, Jones is able to catch his blocker off-balanced late in the down with a powerful rip move and fight back inside to help stop the run.
This spider graph shows how Jones measures physically and athletically as solely a defensive tackle. The Cowboys have already seen what David Irving is able to do with his length against guards on the inside, and while Jones won't be the same disruptive force he could very well anchor the point of attack as a large one technique.
Jones' ability to work his lower body with light footwork and control stood out on tape as a bigger player with a long frame, another positive trait that will help him playing inside with the Cowboys.
This last clip comes from the 2016 season, when Jones (#95) was with the Packers. Seen here sacking Russell Wilson – his last regular season sack – Jones works under his man with his pad level and tight hands to disengage at the perfect time and finish at the quarterback.
The consistent ability to shed blocks is simply not part of Jones' game anymore, which is why his opportunities to play DE with the Cowboys may be limited.
If it comes down to Datone Jones or rookie Taco Charlton taking DeMarcus Lawrence off the field in a rotation at LDE, both players may offer similar support against the run while Charlton can do better to win up field and be a pass rushing threat.
Jones' pad level allows him to be a down-the-line player from multiple positions across the defensive line though, giving the Cowboys options as to how they would like to utilize their latest addition to a front that has not recorded a sack since the first half of their week ten loss in Atlanta.
Look for Datone Jones to slowly but surely work his way into the Cowboys' rotation at defensive tackle and stiffen their defense against the run with his range and athleticism.