The Buffalo Bills got an experienced, and truly versatile offensive lineman in Dion Dawkins with their second selection in Round 2 on Friday night.
He was my No. 8 offensive tackle in this draft class.
The handful of prospects in front of him were slightly more consistent with their technique in pass pro and in the running-game, but Dawkins film made it obvious he played in 44 games during his collegiate career.
He’s one of those “not always the prettiest yet gets the job type” type of offensive linemen. Actually, when watching him, I was reminded of a bigger, stronger, and more fluid John Miller.
Dawkins has a guard’s body and upper-body pop, but the arm length — 35” — and effortlessly fluidity of a tackle.
Frequently, Dawkins’ initial punch stuns defensive linemen, and it’s all over. While I think he could add some strength in his lower body to improve his anchor against bull rushes — on a few instances he can get pushed back a bit — from the belt up, he’s got NFL-type strength already.
On the move, Dawkins looks like a front-court basketball player. He does have a weird tendency to bend at the waist when finishing his blocks for the run. He looks somewhat lumbering as a runner because he’s 6’4” and 314 pounds, but his burst off the snap and pinpoint “accuracy” finding linebackers at the second level make you realize he’s fully aware and totally under control while moving.
That’s the appeal of him for Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and his zone-based block scheme.
Because he’s such a fine athlete, Dawkins kick-slide in pass protection — the first step that goes diagonally back toward the quarterback — isn’t as long and wide as you’d like, although his film shows him rarely, if ever being beat by smaller speed rushes.
In college, he got away that technical mishap. In the NFL, he’ll want to work hard to improve the depth on his kick slide because pro pass-rushers are obviously faster, quicker, and bendier.
Right now, as a guard, I think Dawkins would have some issues dealing with low center-of-gravity, bull-rushing defensive tackles. He possesses prototypical “right tackle traits,” meaning, he’s big, has overpowering upper-body strength and won’t be a liability in pass-protection because of his light feet.
(Dawkins had a three-cone time of 7.30 at 314 pounds. Panthers wideout Kelvin Benjamin had a 7.33 three-cone at 240.)
I thought Troy’s Antonio Garcia was even more agile and better in pass protection. But I expect Dawkins to start at right tackle for the Bills this year — yes, he’s much more balanced and refined than Jordan Mills, and be a very reliable one at that. If Buffalo wanted or needed to, Dawkins can move inside left guard as Richie Incognito’s replacement in a few seasons.