The most important thing the Buffalo Bills did to improve their franchise in the last five years is having drafted a franchise quarterback. Once a team has that franchise player, though, it’s incumbent upon the franchise to protect him and make sure that he stays healthy.
In Buffalo’s case, the team actually drafted the player they thought would be the left tackle of the future before they had quarterback Josh Allen on the roster. Sure, the original plan was to have that player start off at right tackle, but injuries to 2017 left tackle Cordy Glenn forced new head coach Sean McDermott to play a rookie at left tackle. There have been growing pains, but that rookie is now a seasoned vet and an anchor along the offensive line.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss that franchise left tackle.
Name: Dion Dawkins
Height/Weight: 6’5” 320 lbs
Age: 28 (29 on 4/26/2023)
Experience/Draft: 6; selected in the second round (No. 63 overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft by Buffalo
Acquired: Second-round draft choice
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Dawkins signed a four-year extension worth a total of $58.3 million back in August of 2020. This is the second year of that extension, and his cap hit for the season is $12,710,294, which is the fourth-highest on the club this season. The Bills will be on the hook for a dead-cap number of $11.285 million if they were to trade or release him.
2021 Recap: Dawkins started 15 games for the Bills last season. After spending time in the hospital fighting COVID-19 just prior to training camp, he tested positive for the virus a second time in December. That caused him to miss Buffalo’s victory over the Carolina Panthers, and he didn’t start the following game against the New England Patriots. Once Ike Boettger was injured, though, Dawkins re-entered the lineup. Overall, he played 1,089 offensive snaps for the Bills last year. He committed ten penalties, which was tied for sixth-most in the league, and he allowed four sacks on the season. He didn’t commit a penalty in the postseason, but he did allow a sack, as Jarran Reed beat him around the edge to sack Allen in the fourth quarter of Buffalo’s 42-36 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Dawkins was named to his first Pro Bowl at the end of the season.
Positional outlook: Dawkins will be the starting left tackle this year, and we assume that Spencer Brown will be the starting right tackle. Tommy Doyle, Luke Tenuta, Derek Kerstetter, Alec Anderson, Bobby Hart, Tanner Owen, David Quessenberry, and Cody Ford are the other players the team lists at tackle in some capacity.
2022 Offseason: Dawkins is healthy and he has participated in all offseason activities, mandatory and voluntary, to date.
2022 Season outlook: Dawkins is the man responsible for blocking Josh Allen’s backside, so he has about the most important job on the team outside of Allen himself. Dawkins committed more penalties last year than he had since 2018, and it was clear at the beginning of the season that he wasn’t quite right as he worked his way back to full strength after his hospitalization due to COVID. With a full offseason under his belt, I expect that Dawkins will avoid the slow start he had last year and be even better in 2022. Dawkins is a solid football player and an incredible human being, and he’s also one of the more fun players to listen to in an interview or press conference. That kind of energy is infectious, and he brings the line as a whole up when he’s feeling good. Dawkins isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future, and the Bills are better off for it.