The Buffalo Bills have been wheeling and dealing to start the 2017 NFL Draft. For the third straight time, the Bills have dealt out of their originally scheduled selection -- and for the second straight time, the Bills elected to move up to fill a need with a player they covet.
Buffalo decided to trade three selections to move up and pick Temple offensive lineman Dion Dawkins with the 63rd overall selection. In order to move up, the Bills relinquished the 75th overall, 149th, and 156th overall selections.
Dawkins, who started all last season at left tackle for Temple, is projected to compete at either right tackle or inside at guard. With the trade, the Bills now have no picks in either the third or fourth round.
Their remaining picks for the Bills in the 2017 NFL Draft are 163rd overall (fifth round), 171st overall (fifth round), and 195th overall (sixth round).
Joe B's Take
Three picks for one is a steep price to pay to move up only 12 slots at that point in the draft, but the Bills' hand was likely forced by three separate factors: their thoughts on Dion Dawkins about his potential to start right away for the team, the lack of offensive line depth remaining in the 2017 NFL Draft, and Sean McDermott's intimate knowledge of what the Carolina Panthers needed and were possibly inclined to address at 64th overall.
Although listed by some draft analysts as an offensive guard, I believe Dawkins has the ability to remain at tackle, but as a right tackle -- not on the left side like he played in college. I believe his athleticism and movement ability was a bit undervalued, and with his size (6-foot-4, 314 pounds) and way above average arm length for the position (35-inch arms), he should be every opportunity to prove he can play right tackle -- and I believe he will.
That was a clear need for the Buffalo Bills, who aggressively targeted right tackle Ricky Wagner in free agency before the player ultimately signed with the Detroit Lions. The Bills felt as though they had a clear weakness at righ tackle, and once more made an aggressive move to fill the position.
Even if Dawkins does not transition well to right tackle, at worst, you can slide him inside to guard -- especially considering Richie Incognito has only two years left on his deal and will also be 34 years old when the 2017 season begins. Positional flexibility is something McDermott desires out of his players, and again, that's what they've found.
On the field, he has violent hands, and in run blocking, Dawkins just wants to bury people. He also sinks his weight down pretty efficiently against a bull rush, which will be a big part of playing at right tackle. His balance can be compromised every once in a while, but there’s a lot more to like than there isn’t.
As for the trade itself, I look at it this way: the Bills came out of this draft with three potential starters at three clear areas of need -- and to top it all off, an extra selection in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
I'd say they've done alright for themselves.