The Buffalo Bills gave Dion Dawkins one heck of a vote of confidence Monday afternoon.
By agreeing to trade former franchise left tackle Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals when the NFL's new league year opens Wednesday, the message to Dawkins is simple: It's your job now.
"I actually feel great that the coaches are trusting me this early in my career," Dawkins said in a brief phone interview with The Buffalo News on Monday night. "The one thing that I can say that I think that I do best is I play through the whistle. I know that coach McDermott likes that style, that nasty mentality. I'm guessing that shocked coach as a young player, that I brought that to the table."
Dawkins started 11 games as a rookie in place of Glenn. It had been widely speculated given Glenn's big salary and injury history that the team might move on from him, but the news of the trade still caught Dawkins off guard.
"I just know that this business is different and stuff happens every day," he said. "I have to be ready for whatever is coming my way. I hope that the coaches trust me enough. I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing."
Dawkins, 23, has three years remaining on his rookie contract. He showed why the Bills traded up into the second round during the 2017 draft to acquire him out of Temple, ranking 10th in Pro Football Focus' overall grading of the league's left tackles as a rookie. He excelled in run blocking and did well enough in pass protection to show he can be the Bills' long-term answer at left tackle. Dawkins played 75 percent of the snaps as a rookie and gave up only three sacks, two at Cincinnati and one against Denver.
Dawkins, at 6-foot-3-and-7/8-inches, is a tad shorter than the NFL prototype for a left tackle. However, his arm length of 35 inches is above average and ideal for the position. Glenn is 6-5 with 35 3-4-inch arms. Long-armed tackles cause pass rushers to take a wider path to the quarterback.
Dawkins said Glenn's mentoring was invaluable as he started his professional career.
"Even though Cordy was off and on hurt, people have to understand who Cordy is," he said. "Cordy is a great player. He's one of the best tackles in the league. From a young guy coming in, knowing exactly who Cordy Glenn is, that helped me. I watched how he got ready for practice.
"I have a high, high respect level for Cordy. Coming in as a young guy, guys could be stuck up or like, 'forget that rookie.' Cordy embraced me with open arms. ... Seeing that, knowing that I was a competitor at tackle, meant something to me, that Cordy cared more about the team than himself."
News Sports Reporter Mark Gaughan contributed to this report.