Steelers Draft: Dawand Jones is checking all of the boxes for a first-round pick
By Tommy Jaggi
When it comes to draft trends, there are certain things we look for and track when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Historically, this team doesn't like to take players in the first round that they don't get a chance to visit with at their pro days, and they rarely venture outside of the Big Ten, SEC, or ACC in the first round.
Some of these draft trends aren't foolproof and the team could always throw a monkey wrench at us. We've seen it happen from time to time in the past, and having two new heads in the front office in Omar Khan and Andy Weidl could alter things a bit. Still, this is a Mike Tomlin-controlled organization and we know how much he likes to be involved in the pre-draft process.
Knowing what we do, we like to look for players this time of year who check the most boxes when it comes to being a potential first-round pick the team is eyeing. Interestingly, that player right now might be Ohio State offensive tackle, Dawand Jones.
Dawand Jones checks Steelers draft trend boxes
This is a bit surprising. Though I am a fan of Jones, I can't say that I think he's worth the 17th overall pick in the NFL Draft. However, what really matters is what the Steelers think of Jones, and he may check enough boxes to take him that high.
Let's start with arguably the most important boxes that need to be ticked: the visits. At this point in time, Jones is the only player who has earned the trifecta -- having met with Pittsburgh's brass at the NFL Combine, his Ohio State Pro Day, and a pre-draft visit.
Of the three, the Pro Day meeting seems to hold the most convincing evidence to be a first-round pick of the Steelers. A confirmed dinner meeting is even better. It just so happens that Jones had the dinner meeting in addition to checking these other boxes. While Kenny Pickett didn't receive a dinner meeting last year, this is typically an indication that the team is very interested.
After checking the boxes when it comes to visits, Jones adds more tallies the Steelers like. Though he's not considered an elite athlete (something they have looked for in a first-round pick in the past), Jones is a very good athlete with respect to his absurd size. At 6'8'' and 374 pounds with massive 36 3/8'' arms, this will be an asset that they could covet.
It's worth mentioning that Andy Weidl drafted a very good left tackle for the Eagles in Jordan Mailata who had a similar frame. The Steelers have also been expressing interest in tackles with good length this offseason, and after Weidl busted on Andre Dillard, that seems to be an emphasis of his at the OT position.
In addition to this, Dawand Jones checks a major box when it comes to the school. Cameron Heyward and Ryan Shazier are two examples of Ohio State players that turned out wonderfully under head coach Mike Tomlin, so they won't be afraid to dip their toes in that water again with one of their favorite football programs.
Though many think Jones is a second-round prospect, we have seen the Pittsburgh Steelers take 'reach' players in the first round on several occasions recently. If they think that he checks all of the boxes they are looking for and fills a position of need, he at least has to be on the radar as a potential first-round pick -- regardless of what we think.