Eagles

Eagles

The phone rang, and Andre Dillard saw that it was coming from the 215 area code. 

Not what he expected.

When I first got the call, it said the number is from Philadelphia, and I was like, ‘Whoa, wait, what?’ I answered it with the speed of sound and I actually thought the call was being dropped because the voice kept cutting in and out and I couldn’t hear them for about 10 seconds. Oh crap, I thought this call was going to fail. I finally heard a voice, but he had already said his name, so I had no idea who it was. Before I could say anything, they passed the phone around the room to coach (Jeff) Stoutland and coach (Doug) Pederson, so it was pretty cool. The surrealism of it all, if that’s even a word. I was just so surprised and so grateful that I had a call come through.

The Eagles moved up from 25 to 22 to draft Dillard, a polished, NFL-ready offensive tackle out of Washington State (see story).

He was projected by most draft analysts as a top-10 pick (see story), but he said he didn’t get caught up on who or where or when.

“I came in kind of with no expectations, honestly,” he said early Friday morning from Nashville, Tennessee, where he attended the draft with his mom and dad, brother and sisters, high school coaches and college position coach. “I heard of these mock drafts that have me all over the place, so I decided I was going to sit back and let things roll.

 

“I was kind of surprised to see that they had traded up in order to get me. It was a serious blessing and a really pleasant surprise.”

Dillard instantly becomes the heir apparent to Jason Peters, who’s a slam-dunk Hall of Famer but is 37 and nearing the end.

Hard to imagine a better left tackle for a young kid to learn from.

He was definitely one of the tackles that I’ve looked up to and watched tape of for the past couple years now. I’d just look up Eagles games on the little app we have on our iPads and just see how he does things and see his tendencies and his techniques and all that good stuff.

It’s a huge honor to be on the same team as a great veteran player like that. I’m looking forward to competing with him, getting better from him and learning a lot from him and everybody else there.

Dillard played at Washington State in a wide-open passing scheme under Mike Leach, whose offenses have set NCAA records for passing attempts at both Texas Tech and Washington State.

During Dillard’s four years in Pullman, the Cougars threw the ball 443 more times than any other BCS school, so he comes from an NFL-style offense in which pass blocking is at a premium.

Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew threw 662 passes last year. Dillard allowed one sack.

It’s not a matter of whether he’s the Eagles’ next left tackle.

It’s just a matter of when.

“It’s just really an honor to be in this position,” he said. “Whatever the team thinks would be best for me to help them, I’d be more than happy to do it. Whatever they got in front of me, I’m ready to work.”

Oh, and Dillard still doesn’t have any idea who called him.

“I was just too absorbed in the moment and trying to hear as best I could over the phone,” he said.

Doesn’t matter who it was. All that matters is that the Eagles landed a guy they believe was a top-10 player in this draft, a guy they believe was the best offensive lineman in this draft, a guy they believe can hold down left tackle for the next decade or so.

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