The Buffalo Bills began the 2010s with Jason Peters in the rear-view mirror. The three-time Pro Bowler had been traded ahead of the 2009 season, and suddenly the most important position on the offensive line was in flux. Eventually, it would stabilize in Buffalo, and a few key players locked it down for the next ten years. Who was the best of this group?
The first replacement for Peters was Bell, a former seventh-round pick out of Northwestern State. The team hoped they could strike gold twice in a row with project tackles. Bell started 30 games for the Bills, 22 of them during this decade, but his career was peppered with injuries. He started a full season in 2010, and seven games in 2011 when he wasn’t dealing with knee and shoulder injuries. Bell was “generally good—and even occasionally superb” when he was on the field.
In 2012, Bell tested free agency, and signed a high-risk, high-reward contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. He only appeared in nine games due to more injuries, and the Eagles let his contract expire after one season—and he didn’t appear in another game.
Glenn was Buffalo’s second-round pick in the 2012 draft. If there’s one takeaway from his career, it’s that he thoroughly disproved the claim, rampant in his scouting reports, that he couldn’t play left tackle. Glenn would start 77 games for the Bills doing just that.
Glenn was never selected to a Pro Bowl, but perfectly played the part of a steady, rock-solid left tackle. He was rarely defeated in pass protection, able to pave the way on outside runs, and pretty much allowed the Bills to forget about 1/5 of the line while retooling the remainder.
Foot and ankle injuries late in Glenn’s Bills career put him on a downward trajectory, and when head coach Sean McDermott took the helm it seemed like his days were numbered. The Bills eventually packaged Glenn in a trade as part of the process that landed them Josh Allen. Glenn headed to the Cincinnati Bengals, where he started 18 games over the next two seasons (again dealing with injuries).
Glenn’s replacement, the player Buffalo’s new coaching staff was counting on, was a second-round pick from Temple University. Dawkins began his career working at right tackle (and rotating with Seantrel Henderson), but Henderson’s suspension and Glenn’s injuries forced Dawkins to play left tackle regardless. The rookie would appear in every game in 2017, starting 11. He held his own, but struggled at times, with a particularly bad game against Denver’s Von Miller.
For the next two seasons Dawkins would continue playing the blind side for the Bills. Overall, he appeared in 48 games and started 43 during the 2010s. Dawkins didn’t have a great 2018 season, and after his sophomore year the coaches called him out publicly (while privately floating the idea that Dawkins could move to guard or right tackle if he didn’t shape up). His 2019 season was dramatically improved, and Dawkins was also chosen as a team captain. That said, Dawkins still hasn’t been selected to a Pro Bowl, and he’s entering the final year of his rookie contract. If he’s going to take a leap in the new decade, it’s time for his audition.
Place your vote: Which of these players was the best left tackle of the 2010s?
Buffalo Bills 2010s All-Decade team: Left tackle
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