Gonzalez and the Browns... Inevitable?

A common thread among a number of the Browns draft picks is that they have something to prove at the next level. Some reason that draft "experts" ranked them lower, some issue that they need to disprove. Joaquim Gonzalez is one of these picks, as TheInsiders David Carducci reports from Berea.

BEREA - Joaquin Gonzalez coming to the Cleveland Browns seemed almost inevitable.

It also comes close to fulfilling a prophecy made by Butch Davis when he coached Gonzalez at the University of Miami.

"I was a redshirt freshman and after my (end-of-the-year) meeting with coach Davis, as I walked out of the office, he said to me 'nice meeting with you," said Gonzalez, who was taken by the  Browns in the 7th round. "We talked about my work in the classroom and then coach Davis said  'maybe when you are done with your 10-to-15 year NFL career you can put that degree to work."

For a walk-on, 245-pound freshman tackle who was redshirtted in his first year, that statement of encouragement was important.

"It stuck in my mind," said Gonzalez. "It kept me driving and it fueled my fire."

It continues to fuel his fire every time a scout or a draft expert like Mel Kiper says he's too small and not athletic enough to be more than a backup at the NFL level.

"I'm a self-made football player," said Gonzalez. "Everyone tells me I'm too small and not too strong, but I started 49 games at Miami and that's a school record. Every time I hear those things it fuels my fire to prove people wrong."

Gonzalez said that while he may not have the classic size and athleticism of a pro right tackle, he's always managed to succeed with his intelligence and his knowledge of the game. He is an extremely intelligent man, who could have gone to just about any Ivy League school. His SAT's were 1320. He earned his MBA with a 3.79 grade point average.

"I got a couple of B's and I'm pretty pissed off at it, myself," said Gonzalez.

That's the type of attitude that makes Gonzalez such a nice value in the seventh round. He's not so much happy with the success, but as he put it he's happy "because of the grind." Currently, the 6-foot-3 Gonzalez weighs 308-pounds. He promises he'll get bigger and better.

"I will continue to get stronger and develop my skills," said Gonzalez. "I have always been able to overcome, whether it be a lack of size or whatnot, with my smarts and technique. That is something I have an edge in and it is something that is going to help me at the next level. It is a sense of pride for me. There are so many negatives about me and I continue to prove people wrong.

"I am not mad that I slipped all the way to the seventh round, I am just glad that I got picked up in Cleveland."

Proving people wrong has become old hat for Gonzalez.

"I am getting pretty good at this," said Gonzalez. "I am coming in as an underdog. I have never been one of those guys that everybody talks about, ever since high school. The NFL is just making me write more pages in my autobiography when I am done with my career. That is just the way things are and I would not want them any other way because it makes you appreciate things a lot more. Success is not just enjoying the actual winning, you have to enjoy the grind of getting there."

Davis said Gonzalez would come to camp as a tackle, but he is not ruling out trying him at guard.

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