Andre Dillard has the core abilities needed to take over at left tackle
Doug Pederson has all but made it official that Andre Dillard will be the starting left tackle in 2020. This will be the first new starting LT in over a decade for the Eagles. This is a scary and new idea for Eagles fans who are used to Peters’ dominant force on the blind side of Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Carson Wentz. The hope is that Andre Dillard will be able to pick up where he left off but I think he will need some time to adjust. At 25 years old, Dillard has a lot ahead of him but he has the makings of a franchise left tackle.
As someone who has played and coached the position, the most important thing about being a tackle is always getting the right placement. Linemen will win if their feet and hands are where they need to be. Whenever you watch a pass rush from an edge it’s like a chess match. You have to study your opponent to know their tendencies and play for them. Being a tackle is difficult because you have to be good against both speed and power rushers. To counter speed rushers you have to often adjust your stance and your “split” between yourself and the guard. The “split” is the amount of space between your inside foot and the guard’s outside foot. The most important thing about combating the speed rush is the tackle’s “quick slide” and staying square to the line of scrimmage. If you turn your shoulder, either way, the defensive end will be able to notice and be able to work inside to the quarterback easily. But if you slide back in time, stay square, and position your hands to fight any finesse moves like a swim, you should be in good shape.
Andre Dillard putting on a clinic 😍 pic.twitter.com/N2IwY6Z5Lv
— Gayle Saunders (@EagleSessions) August 9, 2019
A power rusher will try to use brute force and strength to beat the tackle and throw in a rip move possibly to break free. For the tackle to work against that, they have to be square and low to the ground in their pass set. If they stand up straight the edge rusher will be able to knock them off balance and get past. Often times some of the best pass rushers in football are able to do both of these things so tackles have to study the player’s stances and tendencies and be ready for both.
WSU LT Andre Dillard started using the snatch/trap in game 7 vs. Oregon and employed it tactfully throughout the rest of the season as a change-up + to counter the long-arm. One of his handful of strike variations in the toolbox: pic.twitter.com/zCw6w6fKsE
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) March 18, 2019
From watching Dillard’s tape from this season and college the one thing that really stands out is his positioning. He is able to get in front of defensive ends and stay there. He isn’t exactly the strongest tackle out there or the biggest but he has the feet and hand placement needed. By getting there and staying square he buys Carson all the time that he needs to make a throw when he was in there. There are still some flaws he has to work out but technique-wise Andre is a master at such a young age and it is a great foundation to improve upon.
All eyes were on #Eagles 1st-Round Pick Andre Dillard on Thursday night, and he did not disappoint. We knew about his great feet, but look at the hand usage on some of these clips. Great to see from the rookie. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/p459gnOCY0
— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) August 12, 2019
Like I said Dillard’s foundation is there but he does have some improvements he needs to work on to become that franchise star that Peters was. While his technique is near perfect for his age, his strength does leave a bit to be desired but can be worked on. His athleticism is incredible and he is able to quickly rebound if he makes a wrong move or gets beat off the snap. His strength and size do leave a lot to be desired though. His run blocking ability was subpar and he had an issue against power rushers last season. Luckily weight training and putting on weight through proper dieting is very easy to work on and he can have that fixed possibly by the start of the 2020 season.
ANDRE DILLARD, the LT here, is @PFF #2 highest graded OLine rookie. Looks like #Eagles have added to their already strong nest of OLinemen. I like Dillard’s run block here on the Inside Zone. Good footwork, hands and power. pic.twitter.com/b7jelZVRsq
— Paul Alexander (@CoachPaulAlex) August 30, 2019
Just looking at what he brings to the table now, Andre Dillard is very talented and has the major pieces of what he needs to succeed. It is much easier to get stronger and work on your run blocking skills than it is to gain the positioning ability and athleticism that Dillard currently has. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that he can be the next franchise left tackle for the Eagles and having guys like Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson to learn and work under will be incredibly valuable to his development as a player and person.