A lot of doubt has begun to creep in regarding last year’s first round pick Andre Dillard. He was selected to take the baton from Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters after the 2019 campaign. At least that’s what the plan was initially.
While Peters is still on the free agent market, rumors continue to suggest that the 38-year-old tackle may still be an option for the Eagles in 2020. Derrick Gunn of NBC Sports Philly had this to say last week on Peters, “I do know for a fact that Jason Peters wants to be here. It’s only a matter of time before they get something done.”
At the end of the day, you want the best tackle protecting Carson Wentz’s blindside, and while Dillard still seems like that guy, these constant rumblings about a Jason Peters return aren’t helping his case.
When you look at the stats for both from 2019, it’s clear that neither are ideal options to start at left tackle. Peters is still an above average pass blocker, only allowing three sacks last season, but his 10 penalties (most of them being false starts) were drive killers.
Dillard, on the other hand, struggled immensely with his pass blocking. Jimmy Kempski from the Philly Voice put together a list tallying every sack allowed and assigned blame for each of the 44 sacks the team gave up in 2019. Dillard gave up the most, allowing 6.5 sacks.
Here’s what Kempski wrote on Dillard’s 2019 outing:
“Andre Dillard gave up 6.5 sacks in just 183 pass blocking snaps. That’s… not good. And it’s not as if there was some sort of gray area on those plays. He was definitively beaten, often badly, and he gave up at least one sack in every game that he saw extended action.
The sacks aside, he was very bad in three games, against the Vikings, Cowboys, and Seahawks, giving up pressures in bulk that did not lead to sacks. He was better against the Bills and Bears, but as you can see, there were still some obviously bad moments in those games.
You can maybe excuse the Vikings matchup because he entered that game mid-way through, or the Seahawks game, because he was playing kinda-sorta out of position at right tackle. But certainly, if you’re the Eagles, you would have preferred to see some more “dog” in him in those games. Instead, he often appeared to be far too passive.”
Here’s the example they provide of Dillard appearing “to be far too passive”:
The most alarming aspect from Dillard’s disastrous rookie year is that he was touted as the best pass blocking tackle coming out of the draft last year. There were concerns about his strength and that probably played a part in his rookie struggles, but to give up at least one sack in every game he played extensive time in is just unacceptable.
Lane Johnson had some struggles as a rookie too. Per Pro Football Focus, Johnson allowed 10 sacks as a rookie, but he also played nearly 10 times the amount of snaps that Dillard played as a rookie.
So when we continue to hear that the organization doesn’t believe Dillard is ready to start at left tackle, it’s for good reason. The last thing we want is for Wentz to get mauled from his blindside every game. Peters may be the best option available at this point.
This isn’t an ideal situation at all and I think fans have been overlooking this concern all offseason. We’ve had the luxury of having one of the best offensive lines in football for the better part of this past decade. Fans kind of just expect great offensive line play at this point, and I’ve fallen victim to this too.
But there’s no evidence to support Dillard’s readiness for 2020. Is he bust? I wouldn’t go there yet, but I definitely can’t say he’ll be a good tackle either.