June 17, 2019
During this dead period of the offseason, we'll be comparing each of the Eagles' rookies to current NFL players. We'll kick off the series with the Eagles' first-round pick (duh), Andre Dillard.
"Jason Peters was a big one," Dillard said. "Tyron Smith, I watched him a lot. Joe Staley. Trent Williams. I like to watch guys like that. There are unique things about each one of them. Jason Peters is a master technician, has a great kick, can move that large body really well. It looks effortless when he does that. Tyron Smith, he has the fastest feet I've ever seen, long arms. Trent Williams, mean silverback. Joe Staley, master technician as well."
During a media session with local media, Eagles OL coach Jeff Stoutland was asked who Dillard reminded him of.
"I don't ask myself that question because I have my list of critical factors that I use, but that will come to me as I watch the film," he said. "I'll say, 'Boy he reminds me of this guy, or he reminds me of that guy. I didn't have anybody that I had coached in the past or that I really thought of that reminded me of him."
Me neither, but we'll still give it a go.
Coming out of pass-happy Washington State, Dillard was thought of as extremely athletic offensive tackle prospect with elite pass protection abilities. One area where he is unproven, however, is as a run blocker.
Though he hasn't demonstrated that he can blast defensive linemen off the line of scrimmage against their will, he certainly has the athleticism to be a good run blocker in other ways, such as pulling all the way across the line, executing combo blocks and then getting to the next level to cut off linebackers and defensive backs at the second level, or getting out in front of the screen game, which is essentially an extension of the run game.
In that respect, he reminds me of the Saints' Terron Armstead, who made his first Pro Bowl in 2018 on the strength of his pass protection abilities. In 2013, Armstead had one of the best performances ever at the NFL Combine, when he broke the record for the best 40 time by an offensive tackle, in addition to other impressive measurables.
While Dillard's 40 time isn't quite what Armstead's was, his overall Combine performance in 2019 was similarly impressive, as he earned an outstanding SPARQ score:
The expectation is that Dillard will continue to be very good in pass protection at the next level, and while he likely won't ever bully defensive ends in the run game like the Trent Williams example Dillard himself noted, he should be effective in the run game in other areas, like Armstead is.
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