The Eagles’ 2019 first-round draft pick was thrown off the bench and into the fire when HOF LT Jason Peters went out in week 6 against the Vikings.
What was supposed to be a “sit behind and learn” year for the young super-talent, quickly turned into a very different season. One where Dillard would not only be leaned on, but he would be expected to hold his own against lethal pass-rushers.
After a strong preseason, Dillard would sprinkle into the Eagles offense sporadically through the opening few weeks, until that week 6 matchup. The 6’5, 315 lbs, mauler would line up against premier pass-rusher Everson Griffen in what rapidly became a trial by fire. Despite a few shaky moments, however, Dillard left a good impression on Mike Groh.
“I think Andre did a good job stepping in, playing against a really good football player.” The Eagles offensive coordinator said. “He had some good plays and he had some plays I think that he’ll learn from as a rookie player. We had some of the same conversations early on about [RB] Miles [Sanders].
You’ve seen him grow as a player each and every week, so I think the more he plays the more he’ll grow.”
A rough but promising debut
At a first glance, the 1 sack, 1 hit, and 7 hurries allowed by Dillard against the Vikings looks bad. Even worse, PFF had him rated as one of the worst offensive linemen that week.
Fortunately, we are rational people. Dillard did not receive a single first-team rep in preparation to the game, in which he would be facing guys like Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. Even then, he had some really good reps:
Improving on the go
In the following week against the Cowboys, there was already a notable difference in Dillard’s game. He was much more fluid and disciplined against Robert Quinn:
Looking at a promising future?
In the Bills and Bears games, Dillard allowed only 4 total pressures, and was extremely impressive, going up against Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack on just about every play:
“I’ve been really impressed with Andre, number one.” Doug Pederson said after the win against Chicago. “Gosh, he had another good game yesterday with these two pass rushers, [Bears LB] Khalil [Mack] and [Bears LB] Leonard [Floyd], he played well.”
It wasn’t just Doug Pederson who has been left with his eyebrows raised, either. “I’m proud of our O-line.” TE Zach Ertz told reporters after the team’s most recent win. “Against a really good defensive front, against a top player in the league, they battled their butts off. [T] Andre Dillard in his third-career start, going out there battling the way he did, I’m really excited with where we are at as an offense right now.”
In a time where Howie Roseman is taking a lot of heat for his ability to draft, Andre Dillard certainly looks like a solid investment as the team looks to keep franchise QB, Carson Wentz, upright.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports