Cleveland Browns starting right tackle Jack Conklin suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s blowout 24-3 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, according to multiple reports. Conklin got rolled up on and was carted off the field with a torn ACL and MCL. Conklin was replaced by rookie offensive tackle Dawand Jones, who is capable of seizing his opportunity by providing the Browns with starting-level play.
Jones ended up playing 52 snaps, which accounted for 70% of Cleveland’s offensive plays. The No. 111 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft allowed zero pressures in 20 pass-blocking snaps versus the Bengals, according to Pro Football Focus, leading to a strong pass protection grade of 77.8. That’s impressive considering the Bengals boast a defensive line that features Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard.
The Browns spent the preseason preparing Jones for NFL action. Partially thanks to the Hall of Fame Game, Jones ended up playing 33 more snaps than any other offensive tackle in the NFL across four exhibition games. Jones allowed three quarterback pressures in 148 pass-blocking snaps, per PFF. That experience should serve Jones well moving forward.
Jones is now primed for a notable role on an excellent Browns offensive line. Jones will be surrounded by right guard Wyatt Teller and the likes of Jedrick Wills Jr. and Joel Bitonio. He should feel good about his supporting cast. Jones will earn his first career start against Cleveland’s AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football in Week 2. The task couldn’t be bigger, as Jones will likely draw an assignment opposite former Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, who recorded 3.0 sacks against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Jones’ legitimacy will be tested.
Conklin signed a four-year, $60 million extension with the Browns last December to keep him tied to the club through 2026. Conklin’s injury history was partially why Browns general manager Andrew Berry drafted Jones in the fourth round as insurance. Conklin missed the majority of the 2021 campaign with a patellar tendon injury in his right knee. Sunday’s torn ACL represents the second of Conklin’s career after he previously suffered the injury in 2018 with the Tennessee Titans.
Jones was once considered a top-64 talent that slipped into the 100s. The former Ohio State standout was only physically capable of participating in one Senior Bowl practice. He was dominant throughout, but it qualified as a missed opportunity for the former Ohio State standout.
Despite an uneven pre-draft process, abnormal strength and raw power made Jones an excellent value selection for the Browns in the fourth round. The 6-foot-8, 375-pound Jones has rare size. Jones’ 97th-percentile wingspan (nearly 88 inches), 97th-percentile arm length (38 3/8″), and 98-percentile hand size (11 5/8″) give the Indianapolis native a natural advantage over his opponents.
Jones was drafted to add quality depth and insurance to a fantastic offensive line. Sunday’s injury to Conklin quickly catapulted Jones into a starting spot. The early returns have been extremely promising. Jones possesses the traits necessary to quickly reward the Browns for the faith they’re showing in him.
- Sep 29, 2023
- Sep 29, 2023