Brother in Arms: T Dawand Jones & Thayer Munford Jr. NFL Draft 2023

While it may be all-out war in the trenches after the ball is snapped on each play, the NFL is still a brotherhood. Players from various teams—even those that are bitter rivals—hang out together in the offseason to train and perfect their craft, were teammates with an NFL club before going their separate ways, or even came up together, knowing one another from high school or college football.

Even when they play on different sides of the ball, facing each other directly—like Steelers’ quarterback Kenny Pickett and Bills’ defensive back Damar Hamlin, who played on the same college team and were involved in a violent collision in a game this past season—the brotherhood remains strong, with the two laughing about the collision moments after the play.

One of the most recent examples of this phenomenon is Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Dawand Jones, who played alongside Las Vegas Raiders tackle Thayer Munford Jr. with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Jones was a fourth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft: Munford, who Jones looks at like an older brother, joined the Raiders last offseason as a seventh-round pick.

The two played together for three seasons, falling just short of a National Championship in 2021 when they lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the title game.

As of right now, Jones is the favorite to reach that lofty career milestone first, as his Browns are listed at +3000 to win Super Bowl LVIII at the conclusion of the upcoming season; Munford’s Raiders fall in at +8000 at Ohio’s BetMGM Sportsbook. To ensure the best odds and results for this season, these BetMGM Ohio Promo Codes will lead you to victory.

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While Jones may have won the crapshoot that is the NFL Draft, going to a team with better chances of winning it all (and coming up as a higher draft pick) he’s made it clear that he owes much of his luck to Munford.

Jones is an imposing physical talent, standing 6-foot-8 and weighing in at 374 pounds. He looked the part of an NFL talent almost from the moment he set foot on Ohio State’s campus in Columbus, but getting used to the grind of the college game—learning a pro-style offense under head coach Ryan Day, for instance—wasn’t a feat he could accomplish using natural talent alone.

That’s where Munford, his elder mentor, came in. After a few weeks of struggles during summer camp as a first-year player, Jones found himself wondering if he still had a place in football. He went to Munford, who was entering his third year with the Buckeyes, for advice.

“It was a lot of stuff that was going on with him, and at one point he told me, ‘I don’t know if this is for me,'” Munford told the Akron Beacon Journal. “I’m like, ‘Look, brother, if you stick it out, you’re going do fine.’ He going to be completely fine because he’s big enough, he’s strong enough and he’s fast enough that he should be great. At the same time, I told him it’s also his mindset, too. How well can he push himself to actually become that person?”

The outside perspective obviously worked out for Jones, although it took time: he didn’t become a full-time starter until 2021, by then Munford’s last season with the Buckeyes. There the brothers in arms became inseparable, both playing on the right side of Ohio State’s line: the hulking Jones at tackle and Munford (himself a massive physical presence at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds) right beside him at guard.

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There Munford was able to keep a close eye on his younger charge, making sure that he could keep his head straight at tackle—considered one of the most important positions on the field because of the work they do to keep opposing edge rushers away from the quarterback.

While Munford may not be able to provide constant guidance to the player he looks at as a younger brother now that they’re on different teams, you can be sure that their bond will remain close: that’s how it works in the NFL.

 

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