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The popularity of spread offenses at the high school and college level might lead to more points being scored and but the wide splits and two-point stance popular at the line of scrimmage has only made the learning curve that much steeper for most offensive linemen heading into the NFL. As such, when a massive and athletic left tackle like Dawkins comes along with four years of experience firing out from the three point stance for a pro-style offense, scouts (and offensive line coaches) get excited.
Dawkins took a circuitous route to being a top NFL prospect.
After high school, he attended Hargrave Military Academy for a year, was stamped as a two-star recruit (as a defensive tackle) and initially committed to Cincinnati, before then-Temple head coach Matt Rhule convinced him to play for the Owls. Dawkins' unique combination of size and athleticism earned him immediate playing time but after five games (including two starts at left tackle), a broken foot abruptly ended his freshman season. Since, however, he's proven to be one Temple's toughest players, starting 40 games over his career (all at left tackle) and earning All-American Athletic Conference honors the past two years, including First-Team accolades as a senior.
A fixture at left tackle for the Owls since his sophomore season, Dawkins blossomed into a legitimate NFL prospect. Although he needs to clean up mechanical and leverage issues, he consistently gets the job done and will get even better if he shows the same urgency on every snap. Dawkins as the foot quickness and comfort level in space to stay at tackle, but projects as a better pro player inside at guard where he can hone his hand technique and use his natural power to stone rushers in pass protection and create inside run lanes - projects as an early starter in the league and top-60 draft pick.
STRENGTHS: Sports a massive chest freezer-like frame which he uses to simply engulf defenders at the point of attack. Though his square-ish frame looks better suited to guard or right tackle, Dawkins shows impressive initial quickness, balance and patience in pass protection, as well as the long arms needed to steer defenders away from the ball. He shows natural mirror skills, easily sliding left and right to keep defenders squarely in front him and plays with a calm patience, easing out of his stance and waiting for defenders to come to him. Dawkins is a coordinated, balanced athlete but plays with a brawling mentality, jolting opponents with his initial punch and working to sustain blocks in the running game. When he keeps his pad level low, Dawkins can drive defenders off the ball, firing out of his three-point stance. He is highly respected by the Temple coaches and players, being honored with a single digit jersey (only awarded to the toughest players on the team) as a sophomore, though NCAA jersey restrictions keep offensive linemen from wearing one during games.
WEAKNESSES: Has been able to get away with lax technique at this level and simply wall off defenders with his size. Too often negates his own power and agility by coming off the ball too high and bending at the waist. Lacks accuracy with his initial punch, hitting his target high and stopping his feet on contact, failing to sustain blocks effectively. Comes with some character red flags as he was arrested (along with teammate Haason Reddick) for their suspected involvement in a fight with a fellow Temple student outside of a Philadelphia nightclub. There were multiple charges for both players, including felony aggravated assault and conspiracy charges. Represented by the same legal firm and protesting their innocence, each avoided trial by agreeing to deal which placed them in a diversionary program, Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD), which is normally associated with non-violent crimes.
IN OUR VIEW: Football is a big man's game and they don't come much bigger or more powerful than Dawkins. With the frame, power, agility and mentality to help quickly at tackle or guard, Dawkins looks like a potential Day One starter.
COMPARES TO: Donovan Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The 6-foot-6, 338 pound Smith was a "surprise" as the No. 34 overall pick two years ago but has since justified his selection as the Bucs' starting left tackle. Like Smith, Dawkins will always be vulnerable to the speediest of edge rushers but his length and feet make him surprisingly effective in pass protection and a force in the running game.