For many aspiring NFL draftees, Pro Day is a grappling ground for positioning in an NFL Draft where each higher slot yields increased financial standing.
Former Ohio State defensive tackle Dre’mont Jones, however, said hearing his named called in Nashville will already be a dream come true.
“It matters to me getting drafted,” Jones said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s first round, second round, third round.”
That mindset befits a man who said there wasn’t much more he had to prove at Ohio State’s Pro Day Wednesday.
“I think me coming out here and competing and showing my ability, especially when I feel like I didn’t have to, is a step in the right direction,” Jones said.
Jones, who decided to forgo his final year of college eligibility, is projected to go anywhere from the late-first to late-second round in the NFL Draft on April 25.
That leaves a lot of wiggle room for Jones, who came in at No. 20 among defensive lineman in the 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine with a time of 5.12.
Still, Jones opted not to take a stab at improving his time at Ohio State’s Pro Day.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said his players take Pro Day seriously, but he underplayed its role as a make-or-break factor for their professional careers.
“It’s not everything,” Day said. “We have the film and the combine and different things that tell the story for these guys, but this is obviously part of it.”
Jones said his film speaks for itself.
While there was speculation that he might declare for the draft after his redshirt sophomore season, Jones’s decision to stay in school proved fruitful. His junior campaign earned him a First-Team All-America selection by College Football News, recording 8.5 sacks, fifth-best in the Big Ten, and finishing with a career-high 13 tackles for loss.
Jones said his accomplishments this past season left no doubt in his mind that he is ready to move onto the next level.
“I feel like it’s my time to leave,” Jones said. “I definitely left the platform enough for me to solidify myself as one of the greater defensive linemen that’s ever came through Ohio State.”
There remain questions among scouts about Jones’s ability to play interior defensive lineman at the NFL level due to his 285-pound frame.
Despite being labelled undersized, Jones said he is not often overmatched by bigger guards and doesn’t want to be marginalized in must-pass scenarios at the next level.
“I’m not a third down specialist,” he said. “I want to be on those first and second down moments. That’s what I do.”
Since his final collegiate game at the Rose Bowl, Jones said he had to flip a switch to adjust to the media circus surrounding the NFL Draft process that includes a slew of interviews and being evaluated on drills he’s never done.
Day said appreciation and stress relief will come following the draft.
“They have to enjoy it because they’ve worked their whole lives for this and they have to take it in,” Day said. “I think they can do that more when it’s over. They can take a deep breath.”
Playing his high school ball at Saint Ignatius, the Cleveland native said he grew up rooting for the Browns. Even though he said he is no longer a fan, the Browns hold the No. 49 pick in the draft, where Jones may still be available.
Jones said come April, a high selection is less of a concern than landing with the right team.
“It’s all about fit,” Jones said. “You don’t want to go No. 1 to a team that doesn’t have a defense that fits you’re playing ability. So that second round, third round – I’m cool with it.”