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Editor's Note: This feature on Falcons assistant director of college scouting Dwaune Jones is the fourth story in's "Meet the Scouts" series.

The series provides insight into key members of the Falcons' player personnel department, and behind the scenes looks at how the Falcons discovered some of their top players.

By Kris Rhim

It's a challenge to catch Dwaune Jones – or any of the Falcons scouts for that matter – at the Falcons headquarters in Flowery Branch.

On this particular day, Jones is just in the facility for a moment.

He arrived in Atlanta in the morning after scouting players in a game in Pennsylvania the night before. Jones hopped in an Uber from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and made it just in time for the interview. A few hours later, he will be back on a plane destined for a different state checking out potential Falcons.

That's the life for Jones, the Falcons assistant director of college scouting. Most of the year, he travels across the country to see the nation's best college football talent up close, grade their skills, and analyze how they would fit in Atlanta.

And the process is not an easy one.


Evaluating players is subjective. There is no telling how a player will adapt to a different environment and a new system. Some skills in college are indicators that a player will be successful in the NFL but, like anything, it is not a perfect system.

Still, Jones has perfected his scouting process and become one of the best talent evaluators in the league. Jones has scouted and helped find players like Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, Malik Harrison, Chris Ivory, and others in previous stops with the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints.

Jones' success has come from his unwavering confidence and willingness to embrace mistakes; it's a process he calls faith over fear.

"You're going to make mistakes," Jones said. "You're going to miss on players. If you can accept that, that means that you'll be great. Many people won't put themselves out there for fear of missing, but fear is what's gonna separate you from average. Be fearless, don't worry about what people think. Hold true to your convictions."

Before his scouting days, Jones was a pretty good football player himself.

He was a three-year starter at wide receiver at the University of Richmond, where he caught 146 passes for 1,994 yards and 15 touchdowns over his career. In evaluating himself, Jones, 6-foot-1, compared his game to Falcons wide receiver Tajae Sharpe because of Sharpe's smooth route running.

"Tajae might be a little better, though," Jones said with a laugh. "I was probably a little more stiff and straight-lined, but I digress."

Jones' senior season earned him an invite to the 2000 NFL Combine.

But Jones pulled his hamstring in a drill, forcing him to pull out the combine. He went undrafted, but spent time with the Cleveland Browns and Seahawks in 2001. That spring, Jones played in the now-defunct NFL Europe League for the Berlin Tigers.

In Europe, Jones shined.

In the season's biggest game, Jones caught six passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 53-yard TD reception to help the Tigers win the World Bowl Title over Barcelona. Following that season, Jones joined the Houston Texans in 2002, but injuries again derailed him.

Jones ended up on the injured reserve list in Houston, but to stay involved, he helped the coaching staff. And throughout the process, Jones quickly realized that he might have a future in coaching.

Two years later, Jones began coaching with Cologne Centurions in the NFL Europe league. Still unsure if coaching was his fit, Jones interned with the Seattle Seahawks in their player personnel department following his first season.

Jones admired the scouting process, evaluating talent, studying film and the other elements of scouting even more than he did coaching.

So he coached for one more season with the Centurions, and then Jones accepted a job with the New Orleans Saints as a regional scout. And the man to pick him up from the airport was then Saints scout-Terry Fontenot.


Fontenot and Jones worked together for 11 years in New Orleans before Jones moved to Baltimore in 2011. Over his time with the two franchises, Jones worked with two of the winningest coaches in NFL history — John Harbaugh and Sean Payton.

And in Jones' first year with coach Arthur Smith, he sees many parallels.

"The high-end coaches like those two are extremely competitive, strong-willed, they know what they're looking for, and they have a clear vision of their teams," Jones said. "But early on, I will say this, [Arthur Smith] has definitely traits in similar to those two."

Jones appreciates that Smith has a clear vision and plan for the Falcons. More than that, he values the way Smith communicates with Jones and other scouts, and considers their perspectives and opinions to help his vision.

For Jones, the key in his first year working with Smith is building trust.

He's done that in the past by consistently bringing coaches players who fit the culture and team well and eventually getting to a point where coaches knew that they could trust Jones' word without much discussion.

But that doesn't mean that he hasn't made mistakes. In fact, Jones' misses are what he remembers most. They are the most helpful. He learns from them and embraces that they are a part of his process.

One mistake still stands out from the rest.

When Jones first saw Michigan State running back Le'veon Bell, he was confident he knew the kind of player Bell was. A solid running back worthy of a third-round draft grade.

So when Jones saw Bell again at Michigan State's pro day and Bell looked quick and explosive, Jones didn't think much of it. He had already penciled Bell in as a third-round player and figured that day was an anomaly.

"Basically. I played a half of football, and I thought I knew him," Jones said. "I didn't take the pro day circuit seriously. I was just dismissive of it. I was too set in my own ways of thinking that."

Bell was drafted in the second round and became one of the best running backs in the NFL for multiple seasons. The second round isn't far off from where Jones had him graded, but he knew that if he had just been more open-minded and took the complete scouting process more seriously, then he would have given Bell a higher grade.

"I didn't say, 'Wait a minute. He showed me something at his Pro Day. Let me go back and watch another film,'" he said. "'Let me rewatch this guy a little bit now. Maybe I'm missing something.' I didn't do that. So that's one that kind of always sticks with me."

Jones' career accomplishments as a scout are plentiful; it's why he has been around the league for over a decade. Still, those accomplishments aren't what fuels him. He feels the most fulfilled when he is empowering others.

He does that by preaching his faith over fear approach to younger scouts, giving them skills and tools he did not have when he began. Jones hopes that his career will lead him to become a successful general manager in the NFL, but he has another goal that is s much bigger than himself.

"Being a GM is great, but if the people that are in my department become GM's themselves. I think that'd be the greatest satisfaction ever," Jones said. "…I want to leave a legacy and a mark that I was part of this game."


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