After trading up to the 22nd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Eagles selected LT Andre Dillard from Washington State. Dillard was first-team All-Pac 12 and third-team All-American in 2018.

The Eagles were originally slotted to pick 25th, but they instead decided to trade picks 25,   125 and 197 to move up and select Dillard. There were numerous highly touted prospects in play with the 22nd pick, including Marquise Brown, Josh Jacobs, and Montez Sweat, but instead, the Eagles decided to bolster their offensive line.

Just minutes after making the selection, Howie Roseman said Dillard was a prospect the Eagles coveted after scouting him and he was surprised the team had an opportunity to select him.

“That wasn’t what we anticipated. Our evaluation was this was the best tackle in the draft,” Roseman said. “Usually, those guys go in the top 10. That’s how we had it rated. When he started to fall, we saw an opportunity to get a top 10 player.”

Meanwhile, Dillard himself is pretty excited about ending up on the Eagles as well.

“To be a Philadelphia Eagle and work with coach Jeff Stoutland and Doug Pederson, it’s an incredible feeling,” Dillard said. “I can’t wait to get to work.”

Dillard, who is 6’4 and 315 pounds, pass blocked on 722 plays last season, allowing just one sack, and he also allowed just 49 total pressures on 2,391 pass-blocking snaps in his collegiate career . Dillard is a premiere pass blocker due to his great footwork; that will ensure Carson Wentz’s blindside is covered for years to come, something that is key in making sure the teams franchise quarterback stays healthy. Dillard is an average run blocker, though, which may have been part of the reason he fell in the draft.

Here is a highlight video of Dillard.

Dillard will have time to improve as a run blocker, however, since Jason Peters is still in line to be the Eagles starting left tackle in 2019. Dillard will be given a great opportunity to learn from one of the greatest left tackles in Eagles history, which will surely set him up for even more success when it’s his time to take over as the starter. It is worth noting that Peters, who is 37 years old, suffered a season-ending injury in 2017 and played less than 80% of offensive snaps in 2018, which means Dillard may have a frequent role in his first season despite being a backup.

When Dillard does play, he’ll certainly have to prove himself, as there are numerous prolific pass rushers in the NFC East. Between Dallas’ Demarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn, Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan and newly-drafted Montez Sweat, and New York’s newest rookie Dexter Lawrence, Dillard will have his hands full in pass protection within the division.

For those who like players with a good story, Dillard is certainly one of those players.

Dillard hadn’t played football until he was in eight grade and didn’t enjoy it much at first.  In his very first football practice, Dillard was struggling to finish doing bear crawls at the end of practice while his teammates had already completed the drill, and they eventually went on the field to cheer him on to finish. For many, that experience alone is enough to give up, especially since it was just the first crack at it. Dillard even said he tried out football just to say he played it and to be cooler at school, and he didn’t find much success in his early years. However, something inside of him told him to keep playing, so he did just that.

As a high schooler, Dillard weighed just 240 pounds and wasn’t heavily recruited by any big schools. In an effort to gain weight, Dillard woke up every night at 2 AM to drink protein shakes. At the same time, Mitch Dillard, the father of Andre and a former player at Washington State, helped convince the Cougars to take a chance on his son. Dillard didn’t have much to offer at first, but according to Dillard, the coaches at Washington State saw he had a good frame, which allowed them to work with him and groom him into a capable offensive lineman.

Eventually, Dillard panned out to be an everyday starter for the Cougars and became one of the best offensive tackles in college football while he was at it. After his ascension to relevance on the professional level, Dillard has turned to watch tape of some of the NFL’s best-left tackles, including Peters, Tyron Smith, Joe Staley, Trent Williams, and Joe Thomas.

Now, Dillard is just the first offensive lineman in Washington State history to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and will be the successor to one of a few left tackles he closely studied.

Dillard is no longer the scrawny kid who couldn’t get a big school to take a look at him, he is the future starting left tackle for a team that won a Super Bowl just two seasons ago.

Check out how some at Eagles Nation graded the selection…

Logan Banker, Eagles Nation Blogger

This is about as good of a selection in the later part of the first round as you can get. The philosophy all along has been to select the best player available on Day 1, and on the Eagles draft board, Dillard was just that.

Dillard may not have the biggest immediate impact, but on a team that is so deep and has no immediate holes, that’s isn’t too much of an issue. Jason Peters’ health is a serious issue, especially at his age, and it’s clear the team doesn’t trust Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Jordan Mailata at left tackle if Peters gets hurt. Protecting Carson Wentz is very important if the team hopes to have him around long term, so entrusting Dillard to eventually be his new bodyguard makes sense.

The offensive line is never the most popular pick, but as Howie Roseman has said numerous times, teams win championships in the trenches. The Eagles have their left tackle of the future, and that’s something to celebrate.

It isn’t ideal the Eagles had to trade three picks to move up just three spots, but it was almost a sure thing the Texans would select Dillard had he been there at pick 23. Considering the lack of overall need, it wasn’t the worst thing for those picks to be packaged together for a guy the team is so high on.

Grade: A-

Matt Modi, Eagles Nation Blogger

The instant the Eagles traded up above the Texans, my immediate thought was that it was for an offensive lineman. The Texans were known to be looking for offensive line help, and anybody who follows the Eagles knows that they value building through the line.

Since most of the top defensive lineman had been picked, it is no surprise that they traded up for Andre Dillard. Only one offensive lineman had gone in the first 21 picks (Jonah Williams to the Bengals), so a handful of names were available such as Cody Ford, Jawaan Taylor and Dalton Risner.

When it comes down to Dillard, it is hard to be disappointed with the pick. He was considered by some to be the best pass-blocking offensive lineman in the draft.

Grade: B

Mateus Amaral, Eagles Nation Blogger

Polished technician in the pass game, still lacks experience in run sets due to scheme at WSU. Will come in to learn the ropes of the pro game behind Hall of Famer Jason Peters and a Pro Bowler in Lane Johnson, in hopes to taking the start spot from Peters in a year and solidify the position for the next decade.

As for the trade, good value to leapfrog the Texans, who had him rated highly.

Grade: A

Matt Lupi, Eagles Nation Twitter Admin and Blogger

Grade: B-

Photo: Ben Liebenberg/NFL
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