Based on some of the signings he’s made since coming back to the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden clearly loves to bring in former first-round picks. The latest one he’s signing was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the 26th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Raiders are signing defensive lineman Dantone Jones.
The move to sign Jones is likely meant to replace the recently released P.J. Hall. After seven years in the league, Jones has only started nine games. He lasted four seasons in Green Bay before bouncing over to the Dallas Cowboys and San Fransico 49ers. Last season, he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars for training camp but ended up getting cut before the season.
The former UCLA Bruin has only accumulated 10 sacks throughout his entire career.
It Could Be Hard to Make Raiders DL
Considering all the moves the Raiders have made on the defensive line over the last two years, Jones will have a really hard time making the squad. Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell and Carl Nassib aren’t going anywhere. It also seems unlikely that the team gives up on Arden Key already.
The Raiders did keep five defensive ends on the roster to start last season so it won’t be impossible for Jones. He’d need to beat out Ade Aruna, Nick Usher and Kendal Vickers. Jones is a veteran who would be better suited as a run defender than a pass rusher. As a former first-round pick, he clearly has talent. He’s 30 now so it’s unlikely he finally lives up to his potential now, but he could earn a roster spot and find a role on the team. He was able to play under new Raiders defensive line coach Rod Marinelli when he was in Dallas so that could give him an advantage. With Jones in town, Las Vegas now has three former Cowboys on their defensive line.
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Raiders Defensive Line Could Surprise People
The Raiders went heavily after defensive linemen in the 2018 and 2019 drafts but completely ignored the position this year. They did sign Nassib, Daniel Ross and Maliek Collins but it’s starting to look like the team has some trust in their young guys.
Crosby is already a stud and there’s no reason to think he won’t be in for another double-digit sack season. Ferrell was a top-five draft pick. He wasn’t great last year but that talent is there for him. He could easily turn things around and become a force for the team. Key has so much potential to be a sack machine but he hasn’t been able to put it together yet. If all three of those young guys can improve in 2020, the Raiders could have one of the most exciting, young defensive lines in the NFL.
Defensive tackle should be pretty solid too. Johnathan Hankins and Collins will probably hold down the starting spots. Maurice Hurst has shown a lot of promise as an interior pass rusher. What was once the team’s biggest weakness is starting to look like it could be a strength.