Browns rookie tackle Dawand Jones defends love of football, commitment to game
CLEVELAND (AP) — Like almost everything in his path, Dawand Jones wanted to flatten the rumor.
After Cleveland's massive rookie offensive tackle dropped from a projected first-round NFL draft pick to the Browns in the fourth round, a report surfaced saying Jones had scared teams off by telling them he dreamed of playing in the NBA.
Questions about his passion for football reappeared.
Jones was initially quiet about the basketball-first narrative before the former Ohio State standout reacted with a pointed response on Twitter, posting, “False like where do y’all get this information from.”
At the team's rookie mini-camp Friday, the 6-foot-8, 380-pounder went a step further to straighten the record. Taking a cue from his past playing hoops, Jones rejected the assertions like he was swatting away a shot at the rim.
“It just wasn’t right, in my opinion,” he said. “Just leak something that wasn’t right.”
Jones felt he needed to defend himself. When he did, his response on social media brought support from all corners.
“I was just sitting there and I was like, I’m not going to just sit there and not say nothing,” he said. “I feel like I didn’t go overboard. I just said it wasn’t true and I feel like I handled it like a man. A couple other people just told me you handled it really well. It’s going to be haters and stuff like that, but you just got to make sure you manage it to the best of your ability.”
The Browns believed in Jones from the start, and were thrilled he was still on the board for the first of their two fourth-round picks (No. 111 overall). They see Jones as something of a project, but are intrigued by his size and athleticism.
They're eager for Jones to work with highly regarded line coach Bill Callahan, and that relationship had some interesting moments Friday.
Jones was forced to step out of a few drills and spoke with a trainer before vomiting. When he returned, Callahan loudly gave him some constructive criticism.
Jones' weight has been an issue in the past, and he raised eyebrows by leaving the Senior Bowl a day early and not working out or weighing in at the Buckeyes' Pro Day. But Jones said injuries led to those decisions, and his sole focus now is proving the Browns made a wise choice.
After dominating as a high school star in Indiana, Jones was recruited to play Division I basketball by several schools, including nearby Kent State. He opted for football instead, and despite starting at one of America's top programs, Jones was still dogged with queries about his commitment.
“I got that question asked in almost every interview: Do I love football?" he said. "And I told almost every team, turn on tape and you can just see it on my film. I play with that anger and aggression, it just comes from the heart. You just don’t want nobody to touch the quarterback and that’s my main goal.”
Rookie center Luke Wypler believes the Browns got a steal in Jones.
“He’s a great person, loves football,” said Wypler, who anchored Ohio State's line. “I know what kind of teammate he is and what kind of player he is, and the Browns got really lucky to be able to get him.”
Wypler was around great athletes in college. Jones stands out among them.
“The first time I saw him, it was my freshman year,” Wypler said. "He was bigger than he is now. I was like, ‘I didn’t know they made humans this big that can play football.’ I don’t think you ever will see another guy his size be able to move the way he does.
“He's a freak. He’s a unicorn."
NOTES: The Browns signed five draft picks: DT Siaki Ika, DE Isaiah McGuire, QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, CB Cameron Mitchell and C Wypler. ... Coach Kevin Stefanski indicated the Browns will likely stay in Los Angeles for a week leading up to their Dec. 3 game against the Rams. Cleveland plays in Denver on Nov. 26, and rather than heading home, will go to California.
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Tom Withers, The Associated Press