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Should The Eagles Pick Up Andre Dillard’s Fifth-Year Option?

Andre Dillard’s career has been very turbulent so far.

The former first-round selection was set up for failure. Initially a redshirt rookie, Dillard backed up legendary Eagles offensive tackle Jason Peters. The Eagles did not even work him out before selecting him 22nd overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.

In his rookie season, Dillard started only four games, earning lower than a 60 overall PFF blocking grade in his limited snaps. His lack of opportunity was not a cause for concern, however, as the tutelage of Peters was highly coveted. The nine-time Pro Bowler was in the twilight of his career, and clearly, the Eagles were planning for the future.

Unfortunately, Peters’ last year with the team saw Dillard tear his bicep before the season. Thus, he did not play a single snap in the 2020 season, stunting his development.

With a plethora of injuries across the offensive line in 2020, Philadelphia turned to the 2018 seventh-round selection Jordan Mailata. The 6’8″, 365 lbs. Australian prospect flashed elite physical tools and played solidly. As a result, Dillard lost his spot on the left side.

In his third season, Dillard played solidly in his five starts, ending the season with a 69.6 overall blocking grade from PFF. Although his career has not gone smoothly thus far, the Washington State product may shine with extra repetitions.

Here, we will explore whether it is time for the Eagles to give him that opportunity or move on:

Andre Dillard As A Prospect

Dillard has played only 677 snaps in the NFL, despite entering his fourth season.

So, to gain a deeper insight into some of his more consistent traits and physical tools, we can look at his plethora of collegiate tape. Dillard was an intriguing prospect coming into the 2019 NFL Draft.

As mentioned before, the Eagles did not even host Andre Dillard for a workout before investing their first-round selection in him. Preparing for the retirement of Jason Peters, the Eagles valued the Washington State prospect’s footwork and elite movement skills. Dillard flashed advanced football awareness and incredibly light feet. He was an elite prospect, earning over a 90 PFF pass-blocking grade in each of his three collegiate seasons.

In contrast, his hand placement was a mess. Dillard would frequently grab at a defender’s arms instead of getting a sound chest punch. Moreover, he possessed almost no physicality in the run game or initial engagement in pass protection.

His footwork made up for his horrific hand placement, but work needed to be put in. Perhaps the Eagles thought they could amend this with Peters’ influence. What they really should have been concerned about is his lack of aggressiveness and finishing drive, which is hard to teach.

Dillard’s Place On The Eagles

The Eagles have one of the deepest offensive lines in the NFL.

Despite the retirement of superstar Brandon Brooks, the offensive line is the Eagles’ strength. Philadelphia consistently invests in the position in the draft, which can be seen with their phenomenal depth across each position of their line.

Andre Dillard does not possess the versatility of his fellow backup linemen. Nate Herbig played three positions along the interior last season, while Jack Driscoll played snaps at both right-side spots. The Eagles may be hesitant to invest further in a pass-protecting lineman who has not shown the physicality synonymous with this imposing trench unit.

According to PFF, Dillard allowed 20 pressures in just 340 offensive snaps last season. For comparison, Mailata allowed the same amount in 914 snaps. Dillard’s biggest strength is mitigated in the pros by his poor hand placement and arm length.

What Is The Next Step?

In a perfect world, the Eagles would keep Andre Dillard on the roster.

The Washington State product has shown flashes of elite movement ability and footwork. His potential can only be realized by significant investment in technique building and snaps. Unfortunately, it seems as if the latter is not a realistic option, due to Mailata’s superior ability as well as Dillard’s lack of positional versatility. He is destined to remain a backup that can only play one position.

This impulsive pick by the Eagles has left them in a bind. As Dillard was a first-round selection, Philadelphia has the opportunity of picking up his fifth-year option. If they chose to do so, it would come at a cost of $12.6 million, a lot for a backup.

The Eagles must attempt to get a return for Dillard. They must be aggressive and swift in doing so, aiming likely for a fifth-round selection for the former highly touted prospect. He is an intriguing piece for a young rebuilding team, due to the possibility of buying extremely low on talent with some terrific, albeit raw, potential.

Should They Pick Up His Fifth-Year Option?

No.

Well, almost definitely not.

The reason for the hesitation is simple. If the Eagles can negotiate a trade package, the new team may want that fifth-year option to be picked up beforehand. If that is the case, Philadelphia should relish the idea of getting draft capital for their lineman depth piece.

Otherwise, the Eagles should certainly not pay such a lofty price for a backup tackle. While Dillard would be a luxurious insurance option to have at a premium position, they simply cannot justify the price.

Hopefully, for both Dillard and the Eagles, there is a favorable deal to be made imminently.

Where do you want to see Andre Dillard go?

Let us know in the comments below.

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