Joaquin Gonzalez might never win a foot race against fellow offensive linemen. But there are few areas mentally in which Gonzalez ranks second to anyone in the NFL.
Gonzalez, the Browns' seventh-round draft pick out of the University of Miami, was in tears as his former college head coach, Butch Davis, welcomed him to the Browns.
To say the two have a special relationship would be a tremendous understatement.
Gonzalez, with a 1,320 SAT score, could have gone to virtually any Ivy League School. He also had a football scholarship offer from Missouri along with a few other teams.
But Gonzalez, whose parents were both born in Cuba, also dreamed of staying in his hometown of Miami and playing for the Hurricanes. So, even though Davis didn't have a scholarship available at the time to offer him due to the penalties imposed by the NCAA, Gonzalez decided to play for Miami. Gonzalez set a school record by starting 49 straight games at right tackle and helped the Hurricanes win the National Championship this past season.
Still, he was totally overlooked by most scouts. He didn't receive an invitation to the draft combine, where all of the top prospects are invited, due mainly to his time in the 40-yard dash.
But the one thing NFL scouts can't do, and something Davis was able to do because of his first-hand association, was measure the intangibles.
"A lot of people put so much stock in things that are measurable and most notably with Joaquin it is probably the stopwatch," Davis said. "I think he ran a 5.3 and then you have someone like Mike Williams who runs a 5.01 and automatically you are considered substandard.
"But they don't measure heart. They don't measure desire. They don't measure preparedness. They don't measure intelligence."
Joaquin Gonzalez is lacking in none of those areas. In fact, he might well be at the head of the class.
"If he doesn't make this team it won't be because of lack of effort," Davis said. "He's smart, competitive, hard-nosed. He's one of those blue-collar guys who brings a lunch pail to work. He's going to come in and try to take somebody's job away from them."
|Pick: No. 227 (seventh round)
College: University of Miami
Position: Offensive tackle
Height/Weight: 6-3, 308
40-yard dash: 5.15
Birthdate: Sept. 7, 1979
High School: Columbus (Miami, Fla.) High School
Honors: Three-time Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Team member;