Coming out of the draft, a lot was made of the Eagles drafting Jason Peters’ heir apparent in the first round. How did Andre Dillard fare in his preseason debut?
The left tackle position is in every sense the cornerstone of the offensive line, and in many cases, the entire offense. The Philadelphia Eagles have had the luxury of deploying a future Hall of Famer at the position for the last 10 seasons. They may have found another in former Washington State Cougars standout Andre Dillard.
Nothing lasts forever, and at age 37, Jason Peters looks like he may be preparing for his 16th and final season in the NFL. In anticipation of that, the Eagles traded up to the 22nd pick of the first round in 2019’s NFL Draft to select Dillard.
He’s a byproduct of the both entertaining and pass-happy Mike Leach ‘spread’ offense. Dillard dropped into pass protection a staggering 677 times in his senior season. He allowed just one sack.
Fast forward to Thursday night, and Dillard entered his first preseason game with lofty expectations. He looked every bit the part.
Seldom was a defensive end able to engage the rookie before being taken out of the play. A second-quarter screen pass to Josh Adams displayed a level of football IQ well beyond his years.
Dillard gave up the inside to bait the end toward the quarterback, taking the high leverage outside angle, allowing Adams to scamper several yards untouched.
You can take a look at the masterful footwork below:
Of course, Dillard’s abilities in the passing game are what made him such a highly regarded prospect. Draft experts cited a lack of experience in run blocking as a possible weakness in his game.
Throughout the second quarter, Dillard displayed supreme confidence in ditching the comfort of the stand up two-point stance, putting his hand in the dirt and consistently rendering his opposition helpless.
A five-yard gain by Wendell Smallwood saw Dillard pick up a blitzing linebacker through the B-Gap where he and Matt Pryor were opening an off-guard hole with relative ease. An argument can, of course, be made that this is preseason game one.
Truthfully, that is the most exciting point. This is only preseason game one.
As it always does, time will tell if this strong debut is a sign of things to come for Dillard. For Philadelphia Eagles fans, this is exactly what you wanted from your first-round pick Thursday night. The flashes of poise and technique well beyond his years bode well for the thought of life after Jason Peters.