There was a time, really not even so long ago, when many thought Ohio St. tackle Dawand Jones would go in the first round, or at least no later than the second. By the end of day two, however, he was still on the board. It wasn’t until the Cleveland Browns scooped him up in round four that he finally knew where he would be playing, staying in the same state.
While his on-field talent for the Buckeyes hadn’t ever really been much questioned, almost everything else was. His weight, already an issue for some in spite of his athleticism, ballooned during the pre-draft process.
He did limited work at Senior Bowl practices and didn’t play in the game. He did little at the NFL Scouting Combine, though he weighed in at a whopping 374 pounds, notably heavier than his playing weight. He did nothing at his Pro Day, even simply weighing in, leading many to wonder if he had gotten even bigger. He was asked why after the Browns picked him.
“I’ve just been dealing with a couple injuries. I just didn’t want to chance anything or make it worse in any type of way, so I talked with my agent”, he told reporters, via the team’s media department. “He heard me in the process. I’m just here to work and there’s no other words to talk about, but I was very fearful of how it would pan out. Cleveland gave me a chance and I’m just happy to be here”.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Jones sat out most of the Senior Bowl week drills and the game itself after reporting concussion symptoms to the coaching staff, which held him out for precautionary reasons. That may well be true, and he had no obligation to do anything, but no doubt some will question if he simply was done—which, again, is his right.
There was also the matter of his being a multi-sport athlete. Some teams reportedly questioned his passion for football and whether his real aspirations, which he might look to pursue one day, were to play basketball.
“That was my biggest thing, proving my passion for the game”, he said when asked about the reports of teams believing he wasn’t committed to football. “It hurt me knowing and watching my family, they don’t see it enough and it makes me go harder”.
He has the chance to prove that now. Football is his job, and he’ll have all the resources he could need to get the most out of it, if he wants to. After all, the Browns want to get the most out of him and so will do whatever is in their power to that end.
It may be that he proves to be a steal, a future Pro Bowler in the making. Or perhaps he won’t make it to a second contract. We’ve seen these things work both ways plenty of times before. It’s all up to Jones.