Jones still drawing pre-NFL combine raves

UCLA hasn’t produced a first-round NFL draft pick since Marcedes Lewis went 28th overall in 2006. Will Datone Jones break that drought?

Since the Senior Bowl, the 6-foot-4, 275-pound lineman has generated some of the most positive chatter among draftniks. Here’s the latest from NFL.com, where Bucky Brooks pegged him as one of three defenders with the potential to make an immediate impact.

Looking at Jones’ game, it’s apparent that his combination of first-step quickness and power is what gives opponents problems at the line. Jones is simply too quick for lumbering interior blockers to handle without assistance from the center. He complements this quickness with explosive strength, allowing him to win with power or finesse on the inside.

Yahoo! Sports’ blog Shutdown Corner even has him at No. 8 overall on its Big Board — the first top-10 hype of any sort for Jones, who excelled under new defensive coordinator Lou Spanos as a senior and had 6.5 sacks

From Yahoo!’s Doug Farrar:

Jones is a great leverage player who knows how to use his hands, and will often be seen knifing through blockers with impressive speed. Has the footwork and upper-body strength to move through and beat slide protection, and does it all from different positions. An underrated asset right now — the scouting combine might change that.

It’s worth noting Yahoo!’s ranking isn’t a mock draft and doesn’t take team need into account. On that front, Jones’ prospects for landing in the top-32 are still mixed, though he’s still a lock for the second round. ESPN’s Mel Kiper doesn’t have Jones in his first round or as one of his top five defensive tackles or ends. CBS Sports’ two analysts are split: Dane Brugler has the Cincinnati Bengals taking Jones at No. 21, while Rob Rang doesn’t list him.

The NFL combine starts Feb. 23 and ends Feb. 26. Count on Jones to make some more converts by the end.

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