The NFL draft is right around the corner, and Ohio State once again has players from nearly every position with pro potential. Lettermen Row is breaking down each former Buckeyes star — and what makes them a valuable choice on draft night. We’re continuing the series with another first-team All-American offensive tackle: Dawand Jones.
COLUMBUS — Dawand Jones is a first-team All-American, a two-year starter at Ohio State and a powerful yet patient offensive tackle with intimidating size.
And, soon, he could be an early Day Two steal in the NFL Draft.
The projections for Jones’ landing spot the last few months have been up and down, but, at the moment, ESPN NFL Draft analysts Todd McShay and Matt Miller have Jones going 50th to the Tampa Buccaneers and 61st to the Chicago Bears, respectively. Some still see Jones sneaking into the late first round, but Day Two seems more realistic for the right tackle.
If he does hear his name called on Day Two, he has the tools and temperament necessary to reward whichever team picks him.
Lettermen Row is unpacking why the ROI on picking Jones in the second round could be so high.
Dawand Jones moves remarkably well for his massive frame
When Ohio State football players were asked to name the best basketball player on the team last year, Dawand Jones was usually mentioned first. Jones was a force in the paint for Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, where he eventually put up 17 points and nine rebounds per game. He was getting Division I offers in basketball as well as football. Even though he chose the gridiron, Jones’ dominance on the hardwood carried over to the field, where he developed into one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s NFL Draft class.
Jones is a whopping 6-foot-8, 374 pounds. He recorded the longest wingspan in Reese’s Senior Bowl history earlier this year. As Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy pointed out, Jones’ wingspan of 89.5 inches is equivalent to a normal wingspan of a person who stands 7-foot-5. And, yet, despite his size, he moves surprisingly well. Jones ran a 5.35 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, better than five other participating linemen, all of whom weighed at least 57 pounds lighter than Jones. Naturally, his foot quickness isn’t exceptional, and his tight lower half can affect his ability to execute move blocks and sustain others. But his mobility is good enough to allow him to slide with edge rushers. When it comes to pass pro, what he lacks in nimbleness, he often makes up for with his length.
Dawand Jones is a menace in the run game
Jones is a mauler in the run game. He plays with a tenacity that’s quite fitting considering his bear-like size. There are clips of Jones’ college tape that are reminiscent of his high school tape: moments of utter dominance, where he simply runs over his man, creating a large running lane in the process. Powerful hands and high-end grip strength both go a long way in the run blocking department, and Jones has both of those traits. He does have to watch for penalties at the next level, however. Jones committed eight penalties last season, at least four more than any other Buckeyes offensive player, according to Pro Football Focus.
PFF documents Jones’ success in the run game quite well. Jones registered PFF run blocking grades of 90.6 (2021) and 85.0 (2022) in two seasons as Ohio State’s starting right tackle. His 2022 mark was good for sixth among all offensive tackles with 300 or more run blocking snaps, per PFF. For reference, Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, considered by many analysts to be the top tackle in the class, was ninth among that group.
Dawand Jones is experienced and durable
Jones’ advanced pass protection stats help his case, too. He allowed only five pressures last season, the fewest given up by a tackle with 300-plus pass blocking snaps in 2022, according to PFF. He didn’t allow a sack the whole season, a year removed from conceding three quarterback takedowns. So that’s three total sacks allowed in 887 pass blocking snaps across two years, per PFF. What’s more, Jones amassed 1,553 offensive snaps in that span, during which he made 25 starts, all at right tackle.
Jones’ first career start actually came at left tackle against Michigan State during the COVID-19-shortened season. He graded out a “champion” for that performance after allowing only one pressure and zero sacks. The year before that, in 2019, he appeared in nine games as a true freshman. All of his offensive snaps were at left tackle that season as well. So, while most of Jones got most of his experience on the right side, he does have college tape on the blind side. It’s also worth noting that, in two years as a full-time starter, Jones missed just one game because of injury (last season’s blowout win against Indiana on Nov. 12).