Philadelphia Eagles third-year offensive tackle Andre Dillard has all but lost the starting left tackle competition with Jordan Mailata this offseason, and the former first-round pick may soon be on the move.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reported earlier today that teams have inquired about Dillard’s availability in a potential trade. That report was corroborated by Fansided’s Matt Lombardo, who added that “quite a few teams” have expressed interest in the 25-year old.
Asking around on Andre Dillard, following @Jeff_McLane's report that the #Eagles have received calls on the former first-round pick, and I'm told "quite a few teams" are in the mix and have already expressed interest in the 25-year-old offensive tackle.
— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) August 19, 2021
Injuries have kept Dillard from generating any semblance of momentum across his first two NFL seasons. He started four games during his rookie season in 2019 as a swing tackle behind starting offensive tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson. Dillard struggled in pass protection during that limited action, allowing a 14.6% pressure rate that led all tackles with at least 100 pass-blocking snaps.
Dillard hasn’t been able to stay healthy long enough in the two offseasons since that disappointing initial showing to take the next step in his career. He entered the 2019 offseason as the expected starter but missed the entire year with a biceps injury suffered in training camp. Fast forward to the 2021 offseason, and Dillard is once again missing valuable reps in training camp with a knee injury that has been deemed “week-to-week.”
The former Washington State tackle looked to be one of 2019 NFL Draft’s safest bets in pass protection. He racked up 2,236 pass-blocking snaps across three seasons (2016-2018) in college football’s pass-heaviest offense — over 400 more snaps than any other tackle in the FBS. In addition, he finished that three-year stretch with a 97th percentile pass-blocking grade on true pass sets. Unfortunately for Dillard and Philadelphia, that combination of experience and high-level production has yet to translate in the NFL.
Still, Dillard represents a worthy gamble in a league where quality tackle play is difficult to come by. PFF’s Timo Riske found that offensive tackles have one of the steepest learning curves of any position, as players continue to develop and improve into their fourth and fifth seasons. Garett Bolles is a recent example of a late bloomer after earning a 90.6 PFF grade in his fourth season.
Dillard is a relative unknown with only 338 offensive snaps through his first two seasons. He could offer value and upside to teams looking to add tackle depth at a depressed price point given his recent injuries.
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The Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers both stand out as potential destinations with questionable projected starters at left tackle. Cam Erving is expected to start in Carolina after earning a 44.4 PFF grade in the past three seasons (last among all offensive linemen with at least 1,500 offensive snaps). Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is expected to see Chukwuma Okorafor flip from right to left tackle in 2021. Okorafor’s 57.0 overall grade at right tackle last season for the Steelers ranked 34th out of 38 qualifiers at the position. The biggest thing holding back a potential deal with Pittsburgh is that they’ve already traded away their fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Greg Little, a second-round pick in the same draft class as Dillard, was recently traded to the Miami Dolphins for a seventh-round selection. Dillard should command more than that on the trade market, but the asking price likely won’t extend past a mid-to-late Day 3 pick. It’s not a surprise that multiple teams would be interested at that point, hoping that Dillard can get back healthy and return to his college form.