As we gear up for the Eagles second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the hype around rookie left tackle is all it needs to be at this point. Andre Dillard was drafted with the 22nd overall pick in this years NFL Draft. Many were surprised by the selection but it was the need that everyone failed to see.
Jason Peters is on the wrong end of 30 and its starting to show when it comes to his durability. As for his play, the man can still confidently own the title as the “bodyguard”. Jordan Mailata has become a project that excites the Eagles but it could be a while until he sees the field, that debut has been pushed back even further now with the arrival of Dillard.
Dillard was projected to be a top-15 pick in this year’s draft but fell all the way to 22 with the focus of the draft being mostly defensive talent in the first round. He fell all the way into the right nest for all he knows, ending up in a situation where he can learn from not only Jason Peters, but Lane Johnson and Offensive line coach, Jeff Stoutland.
In his first preseason game, Dillard looked the part as the future of the Eagles at left tackle. He didn’t allow a single rush to pass him in the opening part of the game. He also faired pretty well in the run game.which was a huge knock on him coming out of college.
Dillard knows what he has to work on going forward. At times, he seemed too reliant on his body instead of his hands when it came to the pass rush. There’s a couple of instances where he held his hands too low while the edge rusher was sprinting’s towards, while there were other times he flashed his strength to hold a defender back. After the game, Dillard felt he did pretty well while also stating that there’s “A couple of things I wish I did better, but that happens.”
He also mentioned, “I’ve probably made the biggest jump as a football player between the end of college and now.” He followed that by saying, “Things are starting to come together for me a little. I’m not nearly where I want to be, I’m not anywhere close, but each day I try to stack the days.” A statement that should electrify Eagles fans. A rookie who looks this good right now but is humble enough to realize that there are more levels to his game is a scary sight for opposing defenders.
All in all, it was a great start for the future left tackle of the team. He was poised and determined from beginning to end, leaving fans with an impression that’ll sure create excitement going forward. Let’s see how he does in game two this Thursday!
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports