It’s time that Dillard seizes the opportunity for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Philadelphia Eagles selected Andre Dillard in the 2019 NFL Draft with the intention of him eventually becoming the team’s franchise left tackle. Much of his rookie season was spent as All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters’ understudy and as the third tight end in goal-line situations. There was also that thing where Philly tried to switch him to right tackle for a game, unsuccessfully of course.
With the knowledge that Jason Peters couldn’t play forever, the Eagles traded up in 2019’s draft to select Dillard. Philadelphia’s brass proved that it was high on the left tackle when they moved up three spots and leapfrogged the Houston Texans to acquire the Washington State product with the 22nd overall pick.
All in all, it appears that the “Birds” were on to something as the Texans ended up settling on Alabama State’s Tytus Howard, proving that they were indeed in the market for a left tackle. The question now is did Philly get the right guy?
Andre Dillard has a long way to go to prove that he belongs on this Philadelphia Eagles team.
The Eagles didn’t intend to start Dillard in his rookie season. The plan was to sit for a season and learn the ropes from Peters, but the first-year tackle ended up starting four games last season. In those matchups, he was on the field for 337 snaps. He allowed four sacks, four hits, and 17 hurries. Moreover, Pro Football Focus gave him a 59.7 overall grade as he ranked 58th out of the 82 players that they graded at the tackle position in 2019.
Not only does Dillard have to play better than he did as a rookie, but he also has the added pressure of trying to replace a left tackle that’s on his way to becoming potentially a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The sophomore has a long way to go before his legacy is defined, but no one can ignore that his predecessor is a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, a two-time First-team All-Pro designation, and a member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade team. No, Dillard shouldn’t be compared to Peters, but how does someone not do so?
Andre Dillard is under pressure to perform in his second year with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Things can go both ways for Dillard this upcoming season. He can play competently enough to keep the left tackle job, or he can show the Eagles that they may have made a mistake by drafting him. Either way, much will be learned about Dillard this season.
Despite the fact Philadelphia had parted ways with Peters this past offseason, Brandon Brooks’ injury has led the “Birds” and “The Bodyguard” to a reunion. Brooks will miss the 2020 season due to a torn Achilles. Peters still thinks he has gas left in the tank and no one should rule out the possibility of him taking Dillard’s place if the second-year tackle falters under the spotlight.
The 2020 season is getting closer, and with it, Dillard´s chance to show he can replace a legendary left tackle. He will probably have a longer leash because of his former first-round status. Nevertheless, the pressure to perform as a full-time starter won’t fade away anytime soon.