Dre'Mont Jones is fighting to prove to scouts and NFL executives that he is not a second-round prospect, but a first.
The pre-draft process is unfamiliar territory for any NFL hopeful, with training shifting from traditional football style to more of a numbers-focused effort. But while Jones admitted as much Wednesday after Ohio State's Pro Day in Columbus, it turns out he's used to punching above his weight to exceed expectations.
Jones' two older brothers, Dionte and Darrin, made sure of that when spending time with Dre'Mont.
"It's a big age gap, so they're low-key father figures in a way," Jones said Wednesday. "So I definitely listen to them, I take heed to what they say. They've definitely molded me into the guy I am. My work ethic, from how I act, how I approach things, my demeanor when I'm playing football, my demeanor when I'm not playing football. They definitely molded me."
Dionte and Darrin sat on the sideline bleachers with the rest of Jones' family, watching their brother with pride as he ran through drills in front of dozens of NFL personnel inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Neither was bashful about how tough they were on young Dre'Mont -- partially because he was a big kid from an early age.
"He's always been the biggest guy," Darrin said.
"Big and aggressive," Dionte added. "We watched him a lot when he was young. Our parents worked nights, so we would watch him at night but he would be awake and aggressive at all times."
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That aggression led Dre'Mont into what was initially a handful of no-win situations: Play against your big brothers and get beat, in a big frustrating way.
"We're so much older than him, so we didn't dumb down our athletic ability to play with him," Darrin said.
"(Dre'Mont) grew up fast," Dionte continued. "We actually played him harder. He used to cry and be mad at us, playing Madden. No 21-0 rule."
The 21-0 rule is an unwritten common law of Madden in which the player who falls behind 21-0 before halftime is expected to concede defeat. But not for the Jones brothers.
"I used to beat him 100-0," Darrin said. "Then the very next year he started beating me. Now, I don't play him anymore."
Dre'Mont corroborated their story, which left a searing memory in his young mind.
"It definitely started back with video games when I was like five years old," he said. "I literally got beat 100-0. I remember that. I used to cry and get upset and throw fits, but now when I think about it, it's all part of my process to be the man I am today."
The man he is today is a 6-foot-3, 285-pound potential first-round pick with massive thighs, long arms and a powerful pair of hands. He's athletic, fluid and would seem to fit the mold Browns general manager John Dorsey is seeking in his defensive front.
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Even if he's currently leaving it in the past in order to preserve his draft stock, Jones talked during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis about how he's been a lifelong Browns fan. He mentioned his weekend traditions revolved around watching Ohio State on Saturday and the Browns on Sunday with his father, Sanderline Williams, who has supported the team since he was 12.
If that tradition grew into Williams not watching the Browns with his son, but watching his son play for the Browns? Well...
"I'd cry," Williams said Wednesday.
Dionte and Darrin, lifelong, self-described "diehard" Browns fans, elaborated on Williams' sentiment.
"That's been our dream the entire time," Dionte said. "It was always the goal is to play for the Browns."
"We text about it every other week," Darrin added, "talking about the long guys that (Dorsey) needs."
In a draft that is incredibly deep along the defensive line, it was fair to project the Browns would use their first-round pick (No. 17) on a defensive tackle or end. Then, they traded that pick to New York in a blockbuster deal headlined by superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr, and signed veteran defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
If Jones is a first-round pick, that won't be with the Browns -- unless Dorsey trades back into the first round.
Perhaps it will remain a dream. Or maybe it won't. After all, Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks was in attendance in Columbus on Wednesday, and Browns assistants were the ones who put Jones through his workout drills. The assistants also spent a considerable amount of time making minor adjustments to Jones' technique beforehand, according to Jones.
And according to NFL.com's experts, Jones won't be selected in the first round. Bucky Brooks and Charles Davis released new mock drafts in the last five days, after the first (wild) wave of free agency, and Jones wasn't listed in any of those mocks. He wasn't in Daniel Jeremiah's most recent mock (March 6), either.
"He's one of the missing keys, too," Dionte said of his younger brother's fit with the Browns. "It's an amazing thing to know that he could be that one component that could take them over the top, especially on the defensive side of the ball."
As always, we won't know until the draft takes place. Dre'Mont's future aside, the two elder Jones brothers are excited about the Browns' future.
"I'm so happy," Dionte said. "We've been around forever, waiting."
The wait continues through late April.