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Draft darlings: Dawand Jones is not just another big tackle

The enormous offensive lineman has the tools and experience to make it in the NFL.

Ohio State v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

By normal standards, most NFL players are large people. Even smaller players tend to tower over most of the population. But there are a few NFL players who even tower over their contemporaries.

Ohio State offensive tackle Dawand Jones is one of these massive individuals. Standing 6 feet 8 and weighing 374 pounds, Jones has used his immense size to dominate collegiate opponents. He has now finds himself a potential early-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft — one who could easily be on the Kansas City Chiefs’ radar in the first or second round.

Ever since his size was confirmed at the NFL Combine in early March, comparisons to other large tackles (like Orlando Brown Jr, Trent Brown and Rob Havenstein) started to fly in. But while these comparisons are fair when based strictly on his size, they don’t really do him justice.

Let’s take a more detailed look:

Comparisons to other big tackles

Since he was the second-heaviest player to ever check into the Combine, the national narrative around Jones has (understandably) been focused on his size. But when you compare his 10-yard splits on 40-yard dashes to those turned in by other 6-foot-8 NFL players, you begin to understand how athletic Jones really is.

Don’t be fooled: tenths of a second (especially on a 10-yard split) are like miles in the NFL. But when you see Jones — the heaviest man in this group — achieving comparable numbers, you get a sense of his athleticism.

Of course... one of the players to whom we are comparing Jones is former Kansas City left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Like Jones, he was not a classic fit at the position — so a combination of scheme help and solid coaching was needed. Should the team draft Jones, it would likely face a somewhat similar situation — but with Jones’ athleticism (and his record-breaking 89 1/2-inch wingspan) he would have the potential to thrive.

Explosive run blocking

The first thing that pops off Jones’ film is his first step. Despite his size, he explodes out of his stance, displaying tremendous body control in the open field.

Jones doe a tremendous job starting the play. He fires off the ball, getting to to the second level on a great angle by opening his hips. He meets the linebacker in stride, driving him to the sideline.

The edge defender reads the play well — and actually does a good job starting to set the edge to the outside — but when he stops to prevent the run from going wider, he is met with Jones’ full force.

Larger tackles can have trouble blocking in space — and are therefore often regarded as north-and-south maulers. But the Buckeyes’ offense utilized outside zone — along with several other variations of outside running plays — and Jones thrived in them.

Pass protection

At Ohio State, Jones excelled in quick-setting (or jump-setting) players off the line of scrimmage. These quick pass sets allowed him to use his oversized frame to overwhelm defenders — shutting them down early.

Showing run on this run-action pass, Jones takes two quick sets off the line of scrimmage, trying to contact the defender quickly.

As the play progresses, he settles into his pass protection — while the defender puts all of his weight into trying to move Jones back. This strategy is commonly tried against Jones — and he has a great counter: he uses a nasty snatch move to simply throw the edge rusher to the ground, giving his quarterback a nice window to get the pass off.

Although he does need work in his traditional pass protection, Jones is not a novice to vertical drive-and-catch protection. As the Buckeyes’ season progressed, teams tried to challenge Jones with speed to the outside.

Here we see that the edge defender is aligned wide — and on the snap, he attempts to use speed to bend the arc against Jones.

Initially, Jones does a good job. He fires off of his inside foot, vertically propelling himself into his pass set. As the EDGE nears the quarterback's depth, he uses a dip-and-rip to in order to bend the arc.

Although he has to turn his hips to the sideline — like a tackle would do to remain square to the line — Jones delivers a powerful tight strike to the defender’s inside shoulder, pushing him upfield past the pocket.

The bottom line

While Jones isn’t a player who is a precise fit for the Chiefs’ offensive scheme — he’s likely a better fit for a run-heavy play-action approach — he has the size, athletic ability and technique to become long-term starter at right tackle.

His pass protection will need work. He must clean up false steps and improve his ability to block speed rushers — which, given his size, will be difficult. Cutting his weight down into the 350-pound range will improve both his game and his chance for a long, fruitful NFL career.

This draft has only a small number of starting-caliber tackles. Jones has all the tools and experience to become one of them. If he falls to the Chiefs at 63, they should strongly consider taking him.

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