Exclusive Interview with Temple OT Dion Dawkins
Despite starting 40 games for Temple as a left tackle, most draft analysts see Dion Dawkins as a guard at the next level. I decided to ask him which position he sees himself playing in the NFL, including if he’s comfortable playing a position he’s never played before, the differences in his technique depending on the pass rush situation, and more. Enjoy.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Dion. You started 40 games at LT for Temple. However, it seems that a lot of draft “experts” are of the opinion that you’re a better fit at guard. What position do you see yourself at in the NFL?
Dawkins: It doesn’t matter to me personally. At the end of the day, I’m a football player. I have to know how to play both tackle and guard, and I’ll eventually have to learn how to play center as well. I’m not a picky guy, so it really doesn’t matter to me.
If you do end up at guard, are you comfortable pulling on those outside runs? It’s not something you have a lot of experience doing.
Dawkins: That comes down to being an athlete. At the pro level, you’re going to have to know it all. I’ve been blessed in the sense that I’m a natural athlete and a natural learner. I’m confident that I’ll be fine playing either position.
At Temple, you fired out of a three-point stance in a pro-style offense. It’s rare for an NCAA OL to enter the NFL with that sort of experience. Do you have a preferred scheme at the next level? Do you see yourself in a power run scheme for example?
Dawkins: At Temple, we ran a lot of outside zones. You could say that we ran a bit of a power scheme. But once again, it really doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the day, I have to learn everything they throw at me.
You manned the blindside for 40 games at Temple. What are some tactics you may use to get into a pass rusher’s head? Defending the blindside is no easy task.
Dawkins: I like to try and move him off the line throughout the first series of the game, I like to pancake him. That’s how I let him know that I’m the real deal, and that I’m serious about what I’m doing here. Whether the next play is a run or pass, he might try and commit to one or the other if I’m in his head. If he’s not coming at me with his best now, I’ll pancake him again. He knows that now. He’s going to leave the game bruised up either way.
Dawkins makes for a nasty opponent. He plays through the whistle, and is unsatisfied until his assignment hits the ground (left side of your screen wearing #66).
Spoken like a true OL. Explain to us how you might handle a speed rush differently from a bull rush.
Dawkins: With a speed rusher, I have to let my feet win for me and I have to mirror his rush. With a bull rush, you have to make sure that you have your feet planted to the ground and you have to win with your base. It’s all about technique.
Here, Dawkins mirrors the speed rush to perfection, allowing his QB the time needed to complete this pass.
Before Temple, you attended Hargrave Military Academy and you played some DT. Talk about your transition to OL.
Dawkins: I played both offense and defense at Rahway [high school] so it wasn’t a big transition for me when I attended Hargrave because I was used to doing it. I’m used to playing on both sides of the ball. It’s more about you wanting to accept the change. Some guys don’t really like to switch from offense to defense and vice versa. I embraced the challenge with open arms. I’m a football player.
Who do you think was the best pass rusher you faced while at Temple?
Dawkins: Haason [Reddick].
Going with the teammate, huh? [laughs]
Dawkins: He’s a hell of a player man.
I’ll accept that. How many teams have shown interest in you at this point? Which teams have you spoken to?
Dawkins: I can’t really answer which teams I’ve spoken to. But it’s been a large pool of teams up to this point.
In closing, when a team drafts Dion Dawkins, what kind of guy are they inviting into their locker room?
Dawkins: They’re going to get a person who is always positive. I’m going to give it my all, and that’s both on and off the field. In the classroom as well, learning plays, watching film, I love that stuff. I’m a people person. I’m not that kind of guy who walks around quietly with his headphones on. No, that’s not me. I’m one of those guys who interacts with everybody around him, and will eventually get to know everybody in his locker room. That’s the kind of teammate that I am.