Left tackle wasn’t a position of need for the Bills during 2017 NFL Draft, but the team still used a 2nd round pick to bring former Temple offensive lineman Dion Dawkins on board. At first it looked like the plan was to have him switching sides and give him the opportunity to unseat veteran starter Jordan Mills at right tackle, but a problematic offseason for incumbent franchise LT Cordy Glenn opened the door to the rookie at his original position. With Glenn in and out of the line up and struggling with an ankle injury, Dawkins took advantage of his opportunity. To me, it’s clear the Bills need to keep him at LT moving forward.
Ryan Ramczyk is the highest graded rookie OT this season pic.twitter.com/r9gXuUDRPQ— PFF (@PFF) December 30, 2017
Dion Dawkins is rated the 28th best OT in the league this season and the 2nd-best rookie OT, according Pro Football Focus, with an 77.2 overall grade. He’s showing promise protecting the QB (75.4 PFF pass block grade), but his forte is run blocking (80.5 PFF run block grade), where he is exceptionally powerful and finishes his blocks with aggression. Keep an eye on him and you’ll see him blocking his man 10 or even 15 yards down the field.
Dawkins is outplaying Glenn, but obviously the latter never played at full strength this season. Glenn still a top LT when healthy, but at this point it’s clear Dawkins need to play on the left side, and it’s unclear when (and if) Glenn’s injury will ever fully heal. Dawkins never looked comfortable playing on the right side, especially with his kick slide in pass protection. Dawkins, like Kouandjio before him, is a guy who plays his best at his natural LT position. He showed enough this year to justify his draft spot and his place in the starting line up going forward. Glenn can be moved to another spot on the line, but given his past success as a blind side protector, his cap hit next year ($14.45M), and some trade rumors from this season, I think Brandon Beane will work hard to find a nice deal for the Bills using Glenn as trade bait.
With or without Cordy Glenn on the roster next season, Dawkins is the guy at LT going forward. He’s another really good find by McDermott in this past draft, and surely is looking like a building block for what appears to be a bright future.