Andre Dillard Eagles Draft Pick Analysis
Andre Dillard, Offensive Tackle out of Washington State University
When the Eagles traded up over the Texans from the 25th overall pick to the 22nd overall pick to grab Andre Dillard, I was ecstatic. The dropoff from Dillard to the pick after him, another offensive tackle Tytus Howard, is a large one. Andre Dillard was the top tackle in the draft on most draft boards, and yet the Eagles were still able to snatch him at 22nd overall. What allowed this to happen was the absolutely stacked class of defensive linemen that seemed to be everywhere in the first round. As more and more teams took advantage of this historic D-line draft class, top talent in other positions fell lower and lower.
This allowed the Eagles to draft a guy who allowed 1 sack last year on 677 pass attempts. Even with that incredible, almost unheard of ratio, Dillard still seemed absolutely disgusted at himself for allowing the sack when talking about it to the Philadelphia media when he arrived in Philly. He said, “I do remember that my weight was kind of forward and my hands weren’t all the way inside on that particular play, and so he kind of just got a hold of my shoulder and kind of pulled me down forward and went inside. I’ll always remember that play.”
This guy is tough on himself. He wants to be the best. He’s someone who is going to be able to come in and sit behind a future Hall of Fame tackle in Jason Peters for a year and learn from him, and then go on to be a worthy replacement. Dillard will have large shoes to fill after Peters most likely retires after this season, but he is certainly up for the challenge.
If there is any problem with Andre Dillard, it is run blocking. While he was without a doubt the best pass protecting lineman in the draft, he has little experience with run blocking. At Washington State, they rarely ran the ball. They lead the BCS in pass attempts last year at 677 attempts and were one of the most pass-heavy teams in college football history. They were also dead last in rushing attempts in the FBS last season with only 21.6 rushing attempts per game.
Luckily, the Eagles coaching staff doesn’t seem worried about his lack of run blocking experience. Head coach Doug Pederson said to the media, “Yeah, they did throw the ball a lot at Washington State, and that’s a credit to what they did, and that’s why he’s a good pass protector. We pride ourselves in running the ball here, and he’s going to come in and learn.” Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland also seems unconcerned, saying, “he’s an elite pass protector. They don’t ask him to run block all that much, but when he does, he does a decent job. I know I can help him there.” Clearly, the coaching staff believes he has what it takes to develop into an elite run blocker, they just need to work on it with him.
If Dillard can develop into an elite run blocker, he will be one of the best linemen in the NFL. He’s already one of the best pass protectors the NFL has seen come out of the draft in a long time. Considering he’s going to be able to sit behind Jason Peters his rookie season, he will have plenty of time to get ready to come out of the gate strong in his first full NFL season, which will likely be in the 2020-2021 season assuming Jason Peters remains mostly healthy during the 2019-2020 season. I can’t wait to see this guy in action, and it’s definitely a fantastic draft pick considering Carson Wentz’s injury history and the hole that will be left at left tackle following Peters’ retirement.
It may not have been the flashiest pick considering all the pass rushing monsters in the draft this year, but it is one that gives us a reliable young stud to protect Wentz’s blindside for what will be hopefully a very long time. They really nailed it with this one. He was the best player available, and he addressed one of the team’s needs at the same time. The stars aligned on draft night and Andre Dillard is a Philadelphia Eagle.