When the Philadelphia Eagles decided to trade up from pick No. 25 to pick No. 22 during the 2019 NFL Draft, leapfrogging the offensive line needy Houston Texans in the process, they thought they were getting their left tackle of the future.
The Eagles moved up for Washington State’s Andre Dillard, a player they deemed the heir apparent to the left side of their offensive line. The Eagles had been blessed with over a decade of strong tackle play from future Hall of Famer Jason Peters. However, with Peters beginning to get up there in age, they identified 2019 as the year to nab his replacement.
Unfortunately for both Dillard and the Eagles, things didn’t work out that easily.
Andre Dillard’s Eagles career got off to a terrible start
Due to the presence of Peters in 2019, Dillard only logged four actual starts during his rookie season, with one of them actually coming at right tackle. He struggled in all three starts he made at left tackle and was destroyed during the lone start he made on the right side of the line.
Following his disastrous Week 11 performance at RT (he was pulled halfway through the game), Dillard expressed a defeatist attitude during the post-game press conference, raising concerns about his mental toughness. It was a stark contrast to an Eagles’ O-Line that contained all-time tough Philly guys like Peters, Lane Johnson, and Jason Kelce.
Fast forward to Dillard’s second season with the Eagles, and things only got worse. He tore his biceps during the offseason, causing him to miss the entire season and pave the way for former seventh-round pick Jordan Mailata to grab command of the LT job moving forward.
Mailata opened 2021 as the Eagles’ starting LT and was handed a massive $64 million extension, sealing Dillard’s fate as a backup.
Dillard flashed potential the past few weeks
While early signs suggested Dillard was due for a trip to the waiver wire this season, he actually found himself slotted into the starting lineup from Week 3 to Week 6, and performed admirably well while there.
Dillard was filling in for an absent Lane Johnson (personal reasons) and actually got to line up at left tackle while the before-mentioned Mailata slid over to the right side of the line. Dillard wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. However, he was good enough to draw interest around the league from opposing general managers.
According to ESPN’s Ian Rapoport, teams are beginning to call about the former first-round pick.
Eagles offensive tackle Andre Dillard: He was drafted to be the left tackle of the future, but it hasn’t quite worked out like that. Instead, that title has gone to seventh-round find Jordan Mailata. Dillard hasn’t been in the starting lineup, and recently, he has been taking reps at guard in practice. So, teams have been calling with trade interest. He did impress while playing left tackle against the Panthers, and that improved his stock. The Eagles won’t give him away, and there are scenarios where he’s a part of their future, anyway. But teams believe a quality second-day pick would be enough to pry Dillard away.Ian Rapoport, ESPN
The Eagles have a tough decision to make
Common sense suggests the Eagles should be jumping at the opportunity to offload Dillard, a failed former first-round pick. However, it’s never that simple. Offensive line talent is always at a premium in the NFL, and the Eagles have been dealing with O-Line injuries for as long as they’ve worn the color green.
Dillard looks expendable playing behind Mailata and Johnson. However, as we just saw with Johnson missing four weeks of game time, having a serviceable backup tackle is a necessity.
Ultimately speaking, a potential Dillard trade will come down to price. If the Eagles can get back a second or third-round pick for a backup lineman, it’d be impossible to turn that offer down. If no teams are willing to meet that price, expect the Eagles to hold onto Dillard as a solid backup LT.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.