The Cleveland Browns made a huge pick in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft with the selection of Dawand Jones, a 6-foot-8 and 374-pound offensive tackle from Ohio State. (Sorry for the bad pun so early in the day!)
Jones was a two-year starter for the Buckeyes at right tackle, which in the minds of some Browns fans means he should immediately be inserted as a starter even though Cleveland’s offensive line is already among the league’s best.
While there is obviously a lot to work with in Jones, who even by NFL standards is massive and can be a handful for opposing defensive linemen, there is still a long way to go for him to transition from a player who vomited on the first day of rookie minicamp and spent a large portion of the day with the training staff.
Working in Jones’ favor is that he gets to work with a talented group of offensive linemen and under the tutelage of Bill Callahan, the game’s best offensive line coach. There is also no pressure to get a fourth-round draft pick on the field given that the Browns are currently set at both tackle positions with Jack Conklin, who is now a year removed from his torn patellar tendon and signed a contract extension late last year, and Jedrick Wills Jr., who had his fifth-year option picked up in May.
Put it all together and Jones appears to be in a pretty enviable position heading into his first NFL training camp, as assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters told The Beacon Journal:
“You got those players who are great, and then you got all the guys below them who are also doing the same things. So when you get a rookie to come in and he’s like, ‘wow, every last guy does exactly the same way, that’s the objective, and then you start to get those kinds of guys that understand that they have to adapt and they do. It’s kind of like learning a foreign language; you can’t do it by going to class once a week. You got to immerse yourself.
“Dawand, he’s coming along. I mean, he’s a rookie so he’s got a lot to learn and I think learning our system. But he’s made some strides there, so it’s just going to be a process for him cause like any rookie, it’s tough. But he’s a big, powerful man. If we can get him on track, I think it’ll be a great thing for us.”
The next step for Jones will come when the Browns open training camp on July 19 and he should see a considerable amount of playing time in the preseason given that the starters rarely play in those games.
There is still a long way to go in his NFL journey, but Jones is in possibly the best scenario for a rookie offensive lineman to learn what it takes to play at the next level, and it will be interesting to see if he can take advantage of the opportunity.