Sorry Browns fans, it's not going to be the Dawand Jones show on the offensive line. At least not yet.
With Jack Conklin out for the season, Cleveland opted to sign a veteran free agent rather than relying on the rookie fourth-round pick to step up as a starter.
Browns News: Ty Nsekhe Signed
The Cleveland Browns signed free agent Ty Nsekhe to the active roster on Tuesday after placing Jack Conklin on the injured reserve with a season-ending knee injury. Nsekhe projects to immediately slot into the starting lineup over rookie Dawand Jones.
That's not what fans wanted to happen, and I get it.
Jones is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-8 and 370-something pounds. He had some very good reps when he filled in for Conklin in Week 1. He showed a ton of promise in the preseason. But he's just not as ready as Nsekhe is.
Week 1 left no doubts that this Browns team is clearly a playoff contender in 2023. We can't afford to gamble on young, fun upside. We need the most reliable starter we can get, and that's not our fourth-round rookie.
Jones' highs were incredibly high in his debut. I believe he'll be a long-term starter in Cleveland. But the consistency isn't there yet — especially as a run blocker.
We saw it in the preseason, when Pro Football Focus graded Jones out as an elite pass blocker (84.9 grade) but a poor run blocker (56.0). And that’s exactly what he showed us in Week 1 (77.8 pass block, 38.4 run block).
Nsekhe, a nine-year vet, has started 25 games over his career, including eight in 2022, and he just has fewer holes in his game. He earned an 80.7 pass block grade and 67.5 run block grade in 2022, and he’s graded out above 60 in both categories in eight straight seasons.
This isn't to say that Jones won't replace him during the season either. As he continues to practice and get up to speed at the NFL level, we should see him get more consistent and more comfortable in all areas of the game. And once that happens, I'm all for plugging him into the starting lineup.
But for now, with the Browns looking to avoid missing a step and getting off to our first 2-0 start since 1993, it's time to go with the consistency of a seasoned veteran.
The Dawand Jones show is coming, but it's just a little too early.
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