The Cleveland Browns didn’t have a lot to work with in this year’s NFL Draft.
The team didn’t have any picks in the first or second rounds because of the — now infamous — Deshaun Watson trade, but they still managed to make the most of their latter selections.
They took a major risk when they ignored all red flags and pursued offensive tackle Dawand Jones out of Ohio State, but he’s done an excellent job of proving them right thus far.
That’s why veteran offensive lineman Joel Bitonio recently tipped his hat to him, praising him for his work ethic and his attention to detail and lauding him as an elite run-stopper despite being such a raw talent (via Cleveland Browns on Twitter).
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 2, 2023
Dawand was actually seen as a first-round caliber talent, but some weight issues and some concerns about his feel for the game made him fall.
He told NFL teams that he actually wanted to play in the NBA, and teams were quite concerned about his work ethic as well.
The Browns had some needs at the position and couldn’t help but take a chance with one of the players with the highest upside on the third day of the NFL Draft, and it didn’t take long before it paid off.
Jones is PFF’s highest-graded rookie in terms of pass protection, allowing just 12 total pressures in 261 pass-blocking snaps to date.
He’s also made strides in the running game, which has been his biggest area of improvement.
With all the injury concerns about Jack Conklin, it seems like the Browns have finally found a long-term answer at the right tackle position.