Dawand Jones

Browns T Jack Conklin Suffers ACL Tear

SEPTEMBER 11: Testing confirmed that Conklin did indeed tear his ACL and MCL, ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes. As a result, he will undergo season-ending surgery. The news adds further to Conklin’s missed time in Cleveland, and will keep him sidelined until the 2024 campaign, the final one on his pact in which he is due guaranteed money. Jones will likely see full-time starting duties moving forward, but it will be interesting to see if the Browns look for experienced depth on the trade or free agent fronts.

SEPTMBER 10: Taking away slightly from the joy of a season-opening win in Cleveland today, Browns starting right tackle Jack Conklin went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. After seeing Conklin get carted off the field, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that there’s a possibility the injury could be season-ending for the veteran Browns lineman.

Conklin was a welcome addition to the offensive line in Cleveland three years ago. The team signed him to a three-year, $42MM contract and he rewarded them with a first-team All-Pro season. Since then, though, the Browns have had trouble keeping him on the field.

In 2021, after missing a pair of games, Conklin was placed on injured reserve with a dislocated elbow that would force him to miss three more games. Ten snaps into Conklin’s first game off the IR, Conklin left the game early again, this time with a torn patella tendon that would keep him out for the remainder of the season, limiting him to only seven games played that year and only four games from start to finish.

While Conklin did miss three games last season, he was much improved throughout the rest of the year, returning to the high level of play the Browns were used to seeing. As a result, Cleveland rewarded him with a four-year, $60MM contract extension that will keep him on the roster through the 2026 season.

With the extension coming late into the season last year, a season-ending injury in Week 1 would be an inauspicious start to his first season under the new deal. Head coach Kevin Stefanski spoke on the situation saying, “It doesn’t look good,” according to Browns staff writer Kelsey Russo. Stefanski continued, “I feel absolutely awful for Jack. The person that he is, the player that he is, and what he means to this team…He’s such a big part of what we are. We’ll hold out hope there.”

Massive rookie fourth-round pick Dawand Jones filled in for Conklin today after the veteran was carted off. The team will likely remain with Jones at the position as long as he can deliver in a starting role. At 6-foot-8, 375 pounds, the rookie could be a force once he gets some in-game experience under his belt. This is, once again, assuming that Conklin’s injury is season-ending. For now, though, things aren’t looking promising.

Browns Sign OT Dawand Jones, Wrap Draft Class Deals

The Browns have officially signed their entire draft class. The team announced that they’ve inked fourth-round offensive tackle Dawand Jones to his four-year rookie pact.

Jones got into 41 games across four seasons at Ohio State, including a 2022 campaign where he earned All-Big Ten honors after starting 13 games at right tackle. The lineman started 13 games at right guard in 2021, so his versatility could lead to some snaps as a backup in 2023.

The rookie probably profiles as more of an offensive tackle long-term. In Cleveland, he’ll have an opportunity to play under (and potentially supplant) All-Pro veterans Jack Conklin and Joel Bitonio.

Jones was the seventh and final of the team’s draft picks to sign. The Browns entire draft class included:

Round 3, No. 74 (from Jets): Cedric Tillman, WR (Tennessee) (signed)
Round 3, No. 98: Siaki Ika, DT (Baylor) (signed)
Round 4, No. 111: Dawand Jones, OT (Ohio State)
Round 4, No. 126 (from Vikings): Isaiah McGuire, DE (Missouri) (signed)
Round 5, No. 140 (from Rams): Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB (UCLA) (signed)
Round 5, No. 142: Cameron Mitchell, CB (Northwestern) (signed)
Round 6, No. 190: Luke Wypler, C (Ohio State) (signed)

AFC North Draft Rumors: Steelers, Ravens, Bengals

There have been quite a few rumors surrounding the Steelers’ potential approach to the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette held a Q&A this week to discuss his thoughts on some of those rumors.

Many fans had questions about potential options at wide receiver, and Dulac made his thoughts very clear: no higher than the third round. With Diontae Johnson and George Pickens in place, Dulac doesn’t see any need to dip into the first two rounds to add to the group. He mentions Ole Miss wide receiver Jonathan Mingo as a name to lookout for, as Mingo has been predicted to go around the third or fourth round.

Another fan asked about the possibility of Pittsburgh trading up in the first round. Dulac dismissed the rumors as just that, insinuating that looking into trades is a common occurrence for the Steelers that doesn’t always lead to action. He referenced last year, when the team reportedly looked into trading up for quarterback Kenny Pickett, who would end up falling to them at their original position, anyway.

Here are a few other draft rumors from around the AFC North:

NFC Draft Rumors: Bucs, Commanders, 49ers, Seahawks

Every year, pundits and analysts debate the value of drafting a running back in first round. The Buccaneers are the latest to enter into this forum as they are reportedly considering doing just that, according to Buccaneers staff writer/reporter Brianna Dix.

The player in question for Tampa Bay is Texas running back Bijan Robinson. Robinson is far and away the consensus top running back on the board. In three years with the Longhorns, Robinson totaled 3,410 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards per carry. While not his main mode of attack, he can hurt in the passing game as well, as evidenced by his 60 catches for 805 yards and eight touchdowns over his collegiate career.

No running backs were taken in the first round of last year’s draft, with Breece Hall being the first off the board in the second round, but two years ago, we saw two running backs taken on Day 1. Despite durability being a main cause of concern for rookie rushers, Najee Harris rewarded the Steelers with a league-leading 381 touches and a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie. Travis Etienne unfortunately had to sit out his rookie season, but his debut season with the Jaguars in 2022 was nearly as impressive as Harris’s rookie year, despite only starting 12 games.

Beyond last year, we’ve seen the Chiefs move past Clyde Edwards-Helaire in favor seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco. We’ve seen a first-team All-Pro honor for Josh Jacobs in Las Vegas. We’ve seen the rollercoasters of Saquon Barkley and Sony Michel‘s careers, as well as the disappointment of Rashaad Penny‘s. The debate continues on into 2023. There has certainly been both hits and misses with first-round running backs, but where will Robinson fall in that storyline?

Here are a few other draft rumors from around the NFC:

  • The Commanders have made it clear that they believe in second-year quarterback Sam Howell to take over the starting job in 2023, leading many to believe that taking a passer on Day 1 is off the table. According to ESPN’s John Keim, though, if a strong prospect like Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker is still available in the second or third round, Washington may not be able to pass them up. For the first round, though, it appears that the team has done their homework on the 2023 NFL Draft’s batch of offensive linemen. Jordan Reid, also of ESPN, specifically mentions Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones as a name that has been linked to the Commanders.
  • The 49ers received a healthy amount of compensatory draft picks, including three third round picks. It’s a good thing, too, because without them, San Francisco’s first 2023 draft pick wouldn’t come until late in the fifth round. Surprisingly, despite needs at both offensive line and defensive back, Matt Miller of ESPN is hearing that the 49ers have done more work studying tight ends that any other team in the league. The team has lauded the depth of this year’s draft class, and Miller notes that this is a historically great tight end class. He mentions Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker, South Dakota’s Tucker Kraft, and Old Dominion’s Zack Kuntz as potential options for San Francisco at the end of Day 2 who could end up working with George Kittle in the tight end room.
  • The Seahawks can go in a couple of different directions in the first round with both the No. 5 and 20 picks. They may keep their eyes on the available quarterbacks, if they fall in love with any, to sit for a year or so behind Geno Smith and Drew Lock. What Miller really sees them doing is taking advantage of a potential early run of quarterbacks to nab one of the draft’s top defensive linemen like Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. or Georgia’s Jalen Carter. If they don’t like any of their options at defensive line either, Miller reports that Seattle is reportedly in love with Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon.