What was it like as the Eagles watched one of their favorite players tumble into the teens and then into the 20s?
“Total anarchy,” Howie Roseman said jokingly, through a big grin.
Roseman, Joe Douglas and Doug Pederson were all smiles shortly after the Eagles traded up to draft Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard at 10:42 p.m. on Thursday night.
It wasn’t hard to figure out why.
After the pick, Roseman revealed that the Eagles had Dillard (6-5, 315) rated as a top-10 player in the 2019 draft class and the very top tackle on the board. A run of defensive linemen pushed the availability of top-tier offensive linemen deeper into the night. In Nashville, Dillard had to wait to hear his name called.
The Eagles were done waiting.
The Birds traded up three spots from 25 to 22 to nab Dillard at a slot much later than they ever anticipated he’d be available. When he showed up for work on Thursday, Roseman didn’t think they were going to walk out of the NovaCare Complex at night’s end with Dillard as an Eagle.
Our evaluation was that this was the best tackle in the draft, so usually those guys go in the top 10. That’s how we had them rated. When he started to fall, we saw an opportunity to get a top-10 player and when you have a top-10 player at an important position, it doesn’t matter about the depth on our team. We’re trying to load up on the lines. We’ve talked a lot about that with you guys and that’s how we roll.
For the second straight year, the Eagles made a trade with the Ravens involving first-round picks. Here’s the breakdown of this one:
Eagles got: No. 22 (Dillard)
Ravens got: No. 25 (WR Marquise Brown), No. 127 (fourth round) and No. 197 (sixth round)
Roseman said the Eagles really wanted to get in front of the Ravens but couldn’t get a deal done. Eventually, the Eagles jumped up three spots in a trade with the Ravens to get in front of the Houston Texans, who desperately and clearly needed offensive line help. The Texans took Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard at 23.
“Obviously, we thought that was a spot there was a chance they were going to take an offensive tackle, which they did,” Roseman said. “We just had to go by our board and [Dillard] was the top guy on our board. Certainly we thought that if we didn’t get to Baltimore’s spot, there was a chance we’d lose the player and I think all of us really wanted to make sure we got the player.”
This is the third time during Roseman’s tenure that the Eagles have traded up in the first round. The first two were for Brandon Graham in 2010 and Fletcher Cox in 2012. So he has a good track record.
On Thursday, as Dillard began to slide deeper into the first round, the Eagles took notice. Pederson said he started to make eye contact a little more. Roseman said it was important for the Eagles to not lose either of their two second-round picks. Mission accomplished. The Eagles kept No. 53 and 57 and gave up two Day 3 picks instead.
Updated #Eagles draft picks:— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) April 26, 2019
1-25: OT Andre Dillard
The Eagles have been impressed with Dillard for a long time, especially since his performance at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama this winter. Douglas credited senior director of college scouting Anthony Patch and West Coast area scout Ryan Myers for their work on Dillard. And offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is apparently infatuated with the newest Eagle. It sounds like there might have been some table-pounding from Stout on this one and the Eagles put a lot of stock into his evaluations. Roseman said Dillard has gotten the highest-badge of Stoutland praise: he calls him an “unusual” player.
A report surfaced earlier in the night that the Eagles almost pulled off a trade to move up to No. 13 for Clemson DT Christian Wilkins. Roseman wouldn’t confirm or deny that report. But they made a trade they were clearly happy about.
“This is not a normal guy,” Roseman said about Dillard. “This is not a normal athlete.”
And the Eagles were able to make a modest trade-up to get him at 22. No wonder they were all smiles.
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