Well, it seemed like an excellent idea at the time. When the Philadelphia Eagles made Andre Dillard the 22nd-overall selection in Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft, no one had any issues with the decision. No, he wasn’t the sexy pick, but how can you argue with strengthening the offensive line?
One of the smartest decisions teams can make in the selection meeting from the aspect of roster-building is to find talent along the defensive and offensive line. It may be hard to believe now, but when Philly made the decision that Dillard was their guy, he was seen by quite a few pundits as one of the top two or three left tackles in the 2019 draft class.
Throw in the fact that Jason Peters was widely seen as someone who was nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career, and Dillard’s selection seemingly made more sense the more it was thought about. Fast forward, and now there’s some concern.
Not only is Dillard coming off of an injury that kept him out of the entire 2020 season, but he’s also had everything from his mental makeup to his ability questioned. Recently, he was mentioned as the Eagle most likely to disappoint this team in 2021.
The Philadelphia Eagles left tackle’s bandwagon loses another passenger.
Unless the Philadelphia Eagles brass decides that it wants to kick the tires on Jason Peters yet again or the team’s coaches decide that Jordan Mailata is a better option (Don’t laugh. You never know with these guys), Andre Dillard, in all likelihood, will be the Birds’ starting left tackle in 2021.
Now that isn’t an idea that everyone’s on board with. Take a poll, and you’ll find out that there is a huge contingent in the Eagles fan base that believes Mailata has done enough to show that he should be this team’s left tackle going forward, so if Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox is correct and Dillard is the Bird most likely to disappoint his team this season, at least Philly has insurance.
Here’s some of Knox’s take on why he’s jumping off of the Dillard train.
"The Philadelphia Eagles traded up in the 2019 draft to select former Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard… Two years later, Dillard has just four starts on his resume and has left the Eagles with many questions… (He) missed the entire 2020 campaign with a torn biceps and will now enter a competition with Jordan Mailata…“Oh, there’s definitely (a competition),” offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said of the left tackle competition (during a recent chat with the Philly media).Dillard now finds himself in a relatively no-win situation. He’ll be a disappointment if he loses the competition and doesn’t start in 2021. He’ll be a disappointment if he wins the job and doesn’t make Eagles fans forget about nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters. Dillard could surprise and be an anchor at left tackle, of course, but nothing in his pro career to this point suggests that this will be the case."
It’s hard to disagree with any of that. Knox definitely hit the nail on the head with all of that.
Dillard’s got a lot riding on this season, but if June of 2022 rolls around and the topic of conversation is Philly needing a left tackle or Andre Dillard really needing a breakout season in the final year of his rookie deal, something went terribly wrong for the Philadelphia Eagles in the former Washington State Cougar’s third full NFL season.