Andre Dillard: Future Blindside Protector?

26 April 2019 Eagles News

The Eagles drafted offensive tackle Andre Dillard out of Washington State with the 22nd overall pick (trade with Baltimore Ravens) in the 2019 NFL Draft on Thursday.

All things considered, the Eagles made an incredible move. Plenty of players would have likely been available at pick No. 25, but Howie Roseman and crew specifically jumped up three spots in order to grab who Roseman considered to be “one of the top 10 prospects” on their draft board. It is interesting to note that the Houston Texans were most likely targeting Dillard at pick No. 23 following the Ravens, but instead had to go with the next best available on their own draft board in Tytus Howard.

Plenty of analysts, beat writers and fans did not have Andre Dillard on their radar because they all figured that he would not fall out of the top 20 picks in the draft. Fortunately for the Eagles, teams passed up on the opportunity to draft an offensive lineman early in the first round as only three were taken before the Eagles traded up and only one of those linemen was a tackle (Jonah Williams drafted by Cincinnati Bengals, No. 11).

Now that the Eagles have drafted a left tackle, what does this mean for the 2019 season? Jason Peters will most likely be the starter to begin the regular season. However, this may not be the case later come October or November. During the Eagles Super Bowl run, Peters only started seven games after suffering an ACL and MCL tear in Week 7 that season. He has since played in all 16 regular season games plus two postseason games in 2018, but his age has caught up with him and there are questions being raised if he can play another full 16-game season.

After Jason Peters retires, there’s an immediate need for All-Pro caliber talent to protect the future of the Eagles in QB Carson Wentz. The Eagles depth at left tackle currently features Peters, Dillard and Jordan Mailata who is still learning the game of football. On paper, Dillard looks to be the best fit to replace Peters in the long term. Dillard has far more experience in the sport compared to Mailata and is already a specialist at the left tackle position—an easy plug and play decision. Mailata’s role would then become sort of a question mark given that he’d remain as a learning back-up if Dillard pans out to become the franchise left tackle for the Eagles in the foreseeable future.

Dillard’s resume is quite impressive. A four-year starter at Washington State, Dillard is very raw in his run-game but is an elite pass-protector. According to Pro Football Focus, Dillard allowed just one sack on 677 passing plays in 2018 and gave up 49 total pressures on 2,391 passing plays (0.02% pressure rate) his entire career at Wazzou. He was also earned first-team All-Pac 12 honors and named third-team All-American by the Associated Press.

So is this it? Have the Eagles found their successor to Jason Peters at left tackle? Plenty have already named him that way and are fired up to see him succeed in that role. Howie Roseman and the Eagles staff have done a great job over the past few years of making sure the Eagles offensive line is one of the top units in the NFL. A young and polished left tackle that is practically ready to step right in and learn from veteran Jason Peters could be the answer to all of the questions Eagles have towards the left tackle position.