The Philadelphia Eagles have done a terrible job drafting players in the last five years, especially in the first round. It’s fair to say Carson Wentz is the only player taken between 2014-2019 that has lived up to their first-round potential so far. However, I can’t justify people calling Andre Dillard a bust just yet.
The Eagles drafted the 6’5”, 315 lb., left tackle from Washington State with the 22nd pick in the 2019 draft. Many analysts and scout teams thought Dillard was a future Pro Bowler. WalterFootball even compared him to the Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl LT David Bakhtiari. But everyone agreed that he needed to add mass and strength to be successful in the NFL.
Dillard’s first season in the league wasn’t what you would call a successful one. Going into training camp, Dillard would get into fights and start crying. This led other players to question Dillard’s mental toughness, however head coach Doug Pederson said that Dillard was his guy.
According to PFF in 2019, Dillard only played 336 snaps, ranking 89th overall for tackles. He, however, allowed 4 sacks, grading out as 36th for tackles. His snap count was basically nonexistent for the last 5 games of the season. He also allowed a pressure rate of 14.7 percent which was the highest rate of any tackle. Dillard also had the worst rate of missed blocks of any tackle at 7.8 percent.
His overall performance led many Eagles fans to label Dillard a bust. It’s very unfair to Dillard. He was a rookie and on top of that was forced into play without proper preparation.
Although Dillard struggled most of the 2019 season, he played well when he had a week to prepare. He actually played well against some all-star defensive ends. People shouldn’t expect rookies in the NFL to produce at a high level during their rookie season. They should be learning the pace and physicality of the NFL level while being solid complimentary pieces on their respective teams.
Fast forward to 2020 and Philadelphia Eagles coaches have been raving about Dillard in training camp. Dillard has put on 20 more pounds bringing him to 335lbs. and it is being reported that he’s bigger, faster and stronger.
Now Philadelphia’s new starting left tackle, Dillard is eager to prove himself. When Pederson was asked about Dillard’s 2019 campaign, he mentioned how he held his own against star defensive players such as Khalil Mack and Everson Griffen. “He did a really good job and that gives him confidence,” Pederson said.
“And now he’s had an entire offseason to really work his body, to work his strength and conditioning, and that gives him confidence coming into camp.” Signing his mentor Jason Peters also helps with the development of Dillard’s confidence and technique.Doug Pederson
Dillard has the potential to be a great LT in the league, but he must prove it to the Eagles and their fans this season. I believe that Dillard has a bounce back season and proves he can be that cornerstone left tackle for the Eagles that Jason Peters was all these years. It’s unfair to consider him a first round bust this early. This year should be pivotal in learning Andre Dillard’s true potential and if the Eagles need to bring in another prospect next season.
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