Jason Kelce isn’t going to lie. He’d love to play with Jason Peters again.
That doen’t mean he doesn’t think Andre Dillard can become a pretty good left tackle.
Kelce talked recently about both Dillard and Peters and what to expect from the Eagles' left tackle position in the 2020 season.
“It is hard to imagine potentially playing without Jason Peters and the personality and the guy that he’s been to this organization,” Kelce said. “But at some point it’s going to be the end for all of us, and I don’t know if that’s this year, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’d love to play with the guy again, but obviously this is in the hands of people who are making important decisions and cap decisions that are way over my head.”
Peters is a future Hall of Famer that’s been here since Donovan McNabb was leading the Eagles to the playoffs.
Dillard is the 2019 first-round pick who is supposedly the heir apparent.
Peters, now 38 years old, remains unsigned amid whispers that he could be rejoining the Eagles at some point.
What all of this means for Dillard remains a mystery.
“Obviously, Jason Peters has had an unbelievable career and is the best player I’ve ever played with, so I’d love to play with Jason Peters,” Kelce said. “I think that regardless of who’s out there, we’re in a good situation from an offensive line standpoint. We’ve got great coaches, and I’m fired up to play some football.”
It’s important to remember that Peters wasn’t even an offensive lineman until his second NFL season. He wasn’t a full-time starter until his third. He wasn’t a Pro Bowler until his fifth.
Dillard started three games at left tackle last year and the Eagles went 2-1.
“He had the fortune to learn from a guy that played forever and has every trick in the book in Jason Peters,” Kelce said. “But there’s no way you’re going to get that amount of knowledge, that amount of repertoire this year, next year, the year after that. That takes a lifetime to acquire. That’s something that will constantly be improving as he goes and as he gets reps.”
The Eagles have had a very busy offseason, and the biggest remaining question for Howie Roseman is what to do with Peters.
And that has everything to do with how the Eagles feel about Dillard, the 22nd pick in last year’s draft.
Kelce was honest assessing both Dillard’s strengths and weaknesses.
“Andre’s a guy who’s got incredible physical abilities,” Kelce said. “He’s very quick-twitched, he can move his feet really well, he’s athletic, he’s smart, he’s got a lot of the things that are hard to get if you don’t have them. If there was one weakness to his game last year it was power, and I think he knows that, I think everybody knows that, and that wasn’t even that big of a weakness that we couldn’t go out there and win games with him, because we did at times.”
The Eagles lost 37-10 to the Cowboys in Dallas in Dillard’s first start, but nobody played well in that game.
Then they beat the Bills in Buffalo 31-13 — one of their best wins of the year — and the Bears at the Linc, 22-14, in his third and final start at left tackle. The less we say about his late-season start at right tackle the better.
What Kelce saw in Dillard was a young rookie who needs to get better but has a lot going for him.
Now he gets a whole offseason to … get in the weight room, add some weight, add some muscle, add power,” Kelce said. “He can get better at that, whether it’s from playing with better technique, adding some weight, adding strength, that will all get better. He already has the things that you can’t necessarily get better at. You want to make a guy quicker? It’s hard to do that. You want to make a guy faster? It’s hard to do that. As long as he’s got a big frame — and Andre’s got a frame to add plenty of weight — he’ll be able to correct on those little weaknesses from a year ago, and the other stuff is just more experience.
The way Kelce sees it, the Eagles will have a capable left tackle no matter what happens.
One who’s already an established superstar or one who’s trying to get there.
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