2016 was a tough year for the Philadelphia Eagles, enduring everything from suspensions, to injuries that would force the early play of rookies. After the loss of Lane Johnson for ten games, the Eagles had a revolving door at the right tackle, including rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitiai. Injuries to both Jason Peters and Alan Barbre saw both backup veteran Stephen Wisniewski, and rookie Isaac Seumalo get their chance to shine.
The positive part of it all, was that the Eagles proved they have true depth on the Offensive line. Both rookies (Seumalo, Vaitai) showed flashes of a bright future while Wisniewski showed his ability to come in and make an impact.
With that said, the Eagles could take a page out of the Dallas Cowboys book and continue to build on that line. With Jason Peters in the twilight of his career, Alan Barbre getting up there in age as well and rumors of the Eagles moving on from Pro-bowler Jason Kelce, it would behoove the front office to keep building for the future.
Last week we took a look at WR Taywan Taylor out of Western Kentucky. This week I decided to look at the offensive line and someone who could not only add depth, but possibly start one day for the Philadelphia Eagles.
OT Dion Dawkins: Temple
This Rahway, NJ native is a big man, at 6’5, 325 pounds. Coming out of high school, Dawkins was a 2-star Defensive Lineman and an early commit at Cincinnati, before de-committing and finding his home at Temple.
Starting 40 games at both left and right tackle, he was one of just four true freshman starters in 2013..including last years prize tackle, Laramy Tunsil. Like Tunsil, Dawkins had off the filed issues that would see him suspended for pre-season play and two games. Stemming from a fight in January 2015, Dion and teammate Haason Reddick were both facing assault charges. Yet later cleared, You can be sure the Eagles, and the rest of the league will be making their own judgement.
Issues aside, Dawkins is grinder, being named “the heart of the team” by Head coach Matt Rhule. Rhule cited his ability to work his butt off and be coached up, something some stars don’t do so easily. Dawkins is excellent in both the run and pass protection. He has a burst off of the snap and has the long arms to keep Defensive lines off of his body. With both the size to grind his opponents into the ground and the true speed to get to the second level, Dawkins has the look of a true franchise left tackle.
Athleticism is something you don’t hear a lot about when talking about offensive lineman. But in the case of Dawkins, it’s who he is. Watching the tape on him against Penn state, it definitely stands out. He was blowing his initial man off the line almost at ease and bursting into the second level regularly. Temple lost that game, but Dawkins made it very clear that he could play with the big boys. Something he has shown throughout his career.
Helping the Temple Owls to an average of 180 rushing yards a game and 22 rushing touchdowns, he also helped lead his team to 3 straight bowl games.
Dawkins is a thick framed prospect, but very balanced in his stance. He has great leg-drive and his footwork helps him establish dominance.
The only true negative you can see is when in pass protection, he will sometimes drop his hands. This leads to wasted motion. He also led his team in false starts, something the Eagles are desperately trying to tame on their own line.
With that said, Dawkins is the kind of nasty prospect one would want protecting a franchise QB. His issues are not athletic issues which means with the right help and a few adjustments, he could be a very coachable player.
What’s also attractive about the 2-time All American is he has experience at guard. Versatility is becoming a huge factor for the Eagles when evaluating prospects and one that Dawkins has plenty of. With all the uncertainty the Eagles face on the offensive line this off-season, Dion Dawkins is certainly a prospect worth keeping an eye out for.
Sidenote: Wouldn’t it be great to see another Dawkins in Midnight Green?
Mandatory photo credit: Justin Cooper/CSM (Cal Sport Media/AP Images