The Eagles have had a mixed start to the 2021 campaign, but to nobody’s surprise, the success of Jordan Mailata has been one of the brightest spots once again. Now signed to a long-term contract, the Aussie is pencilled in as the left tackle of both the present and future. He will be unable to play on Monday night due to a mild injury though, giving Andre Dillard an opportunity he absolutely cannot afford to waste.
It’s been a turbulent few years for Andre Dillard. Despite the Eagles trading up to acquire his services, he finds himself sat behind a former seventh-round pick after failing to beat him out in Training Camp. He missed the entirety of the 2020 campaign with a biceps injury and his rookie year was fairly promising outside of being thrown to the RT waters despite having never swam that ocean.
Dillard looks to have his ceiling capped in Philadelphia and if he wants to start in the NFL, then forcing his way out in a trade would be hugely beneficial for both team and player. There were several OT-needy teams in the weeks that preceded the regular season, but none pulled the trigger, probably due to the fact that for someone now in his third year, he has such a small sample size of games and was unable to beet out Jordan Mailata in camp.
The opportunity to start against the Cowboys surprisingly hands Dillard a lifeline. He has one more opportunity to prove that he can hold his own at the NFL level. He has experience playing against the Cowboys before. In fact, his first ever start came against the team and he held his own against names such as DeMarcus Lawrence in what was an otherwise exhausting game.
A lot of time has passed since then and Dillard has one realistic shot to prove to teams that he is a starting caliber tackle who can be plugged into an offense right away, raising his trade value and keeping his own hopes of becoming the player he was drafted to be alive.
As for the Eagles, they need Dillard to not only protect the blindside of Jalen Hurts to help the offense maintain a rhythm, but to raise his trade value. If Howie Roseman is able to recoup an early-round pick for Dillard, then this only further strengthens the arsenal of assets they have ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.
As of right now, the Eagles have two top-10 picks thanks to the flailing Colts and Dolphins. Adding an extra second-rounder to the trio of first-rounders would go a long way in helping Roseman create aggressive trade packages or spending it on talent.
The Eagles do have depth at the position. They drafted Jack Driscoll in the fifth-round last year and we all know that Jeff Stoutland is one of the best OL coaches the league has ever seen. It’s not like the team would be left without a backup if they moved on from Dillard, but we don’t yet know just how strong Dillard’s play is and if it’s replaceable. A good showing on Monday night would benefit all parties and he simply cannot afford to let it pass him by.
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