Dre’Mont Jones could have entered the 2018 NFL Draft this month and begun his career as a professional football player. As an early-round selection, he would have been able to sign a contract that changed his life forever.
Instead, he chose to return to Ohio State for his fourth — and likely final — season as a Buckeye.
When Jones arrived at OSU in 2015, he was still recovering from a knee injury he suffered during his senior season of high school basketball. He redshirted as a true freshman, but then stepped into a starting role as a redshirt freshman. He was outstanding and one of the most active defensive tackles in the nation.
After the season, Jones’ name began popping up in 2018 NFL Draft talk, and it wasn’t too soon after that Jones began thinking about the next level.
“I think about it every day,” Jones said last week. “Ever since it was first brought up to me. Whether I say I don’t want to talk about it right now, but it’s still on my mind. It’s hard not to pay attention to that.”
Despite it never straying far from his mind, Jones put the NFL off, and he did it for a number of reasons.
“I feel like I can maximize myself and this team, that’s why,” he said.
Jones’ desire to help the team in 2018 melds perfectly with an opportunity to raise his own stock. It wasn’t an easy decision, but he believes it was the right one.
“I already had an idea around January 10 of what I was going to do,” he said. “My birthday is January 5th and I kind of just made a decision there. I talked to my parents to see how they felt, talked to my brothers to see how they felt, and I just called it.”
According to Jones, maybe the two happiest people about his news were Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who were “ecstatic” with the news.
Jones believes they were a bit worried that he was going to leave.
“I think so, yeah,” he said. “I didn’t really keep them in the loop what I was going to do because it wasn’t really their business at the time. But now they’re in the loop and our business is together.”
The desire to help this team in 2018 was a large reason for returning, but an opportunity to improve his draft stock was a major factor as well.
Jones’ name can be found at the bottom of the first round in several mock drafts, and with another year of production, he could be near the top. The pay scale for the No. 28 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft is slotted to be $10.8 million total over a 4-year contract. The slotting for being selected 20 spots higher, however, is $18.6 million over those same four years, with double the signing bonus.
What is going to help Dre’Mont Jones improve his draft stock is finally being allowed to play on passing downs and showcasing his abilities as a pass rusher. With the Buckeyes losing Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard, and Tyquan Lewis, the numbers are such that Jones is going to get his shot at getting after the quarterback. If he proves himself as a force in that area as well, only good things will happen for him down the road.
“Personally, that was a huge push because I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t take that into consideration,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s not all about me. I have to think past myself and just think about the guys who are here. If I’m not out there still, then I’ll just have to deal with it and push those guys to be better.”