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2021 NFL Draft Scouting Spotlight: Alabama C Landon Dickerson

Plenty of potential behind all those injuries.

With the 2021 NFL Draft almost here, the Buffalo Bills have a difficult choice in trying to upgrade their roster. They don’t have the luxury of picking just about anyone in the draft. Do they pick the safer players with lower ceilings, or take a risk on a player with a few red flags, but more positive traits than the safe choices? Case in point, Alabama center Landon Dickerson. He’s already had more season-ending injuries than some NFL players will experience in their entire career, but was also one of the nation’s best linemen when healthy. Here’s our review of the rookie prospect:


Landon Dickerson (Alabama) Scouting Report

  • Measurables: 6’6” 333 lbs
  • Career stats: 37* games played, 35 starts, 2020 Rimington Trophy winner
  • Year: Redshirt Senior
  • Pro day testing: None (injured)

Summary

Landon Dickerson could be the best interior offensive lineman from this class, or he could be out of the league in five years, and either outcome would seem plausible in hindsight. Dickerson, a redshirt senior who turns 23 in the fall, was a four-star recruit in high school who landed with Florida State. He was an opening day starter at RG as a true freshman, the first freshman OL to do that at FSU since Jamie Dukes in 1982. Things went south after that point, as he tore his ACL, then dealt with two consecutive season-ending ankle injuries. Transferring to Alabama in 2019, he became the team’s starting right guard, then center, and started 20 games before tearing his other ACL at the end of the 2020 season.

On tape, Dickerson did a tremendous job playing for the Crimson Tide. Even considering the talent surrounding him, he still stood out for his one-on-one wins, the way he cleanly coordinated with his teammates, and how he ran the show in the running game. Even though he’s not by any means a mobile zone-blocking prototype, he doesn’t lumber around the field, and his wingspan and core strength work well against speed rushers in pass protection.

With a massive build, plenty of strength, solid mobility, and an outstanding on-field and off-field mentality, there is a lot to love about Dickerson. The biggest question is his health—both the availability for games, and whether all his injuries have deteriorated his body and talent. On tape, he looks like a clear first rounder, but we’ve seen medical issues drop players to undrafted territory (see: former Tennessee OT Antonio Richardson). If he checks out with the Bills, this is a player who could be a starting guard or center for their team before long.

Strengths

  • Piledrivers for arms, with big, powerful hands that shove defenders around
  • Excellent pad level, especially considering his size for a center
  • Strong anchoring ability, and a people-mover in the running game
  • Mud-wrestler who will make you regret meeting him in the trenches
  • Constantly looking for work and trying to assist teammates in pass protection
  • Played left and right guard and right tackle as well as center in college
  • Coach’s dream—literally built and maintained a training gym at his house so his teammates could work out in the offseason

Weaknesses

  • Season-ending ankle injuries and torn ACLs on both legs, only finishing one totally healthy season in his five-year college career
  • Lateral agility is solid, but he’s sometimes caught lunging and falling over when someone rips around his side
  • Average mobility to the edge, wouldn’t be well suited to center pulling runs and screens
  • At nearly 6’6” and 333 lbs, may be too big to play center in the NFL

Draft projection: Late first round to fourth round


Why he fits the Bills

The starting offensive line is good, but there’s always room to improve. If the Bills can’t decide on a weakest link, the best approach is to find a versatile talent and let him break into the lineup on his own merits. Dickerson, who’s played all over the line, can do that. Though he’s recovering from a torn ACL, that timeline works for the Bills, since they have their starting five in place. He can redshirt, or maybe work his way into the lineup midseason once any weaknesses have manifested.

If Dickerson recovers from his latest injury just fine, he could potentially be a Pro Bowl guard or center in the NFL. That might be a gamble worth taking for the Bills, picking at the end of the first round.