Andre Dillard was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the 2019 draft to be the heir apparent at left tackle for Jason Peters. While Dillard has struggled to get on the field, Jordan Mailata has passed him on the depth chart.
Dillard, who has a renewed mindset heading into his third season with the Eagles, is ready to take the starting left tackle job back from Mailata. The competition for the job will last throughout training camp, with no clear front-runner at the moment — which is to be expected since the Eagles used a first-round pick on Dillard.
“They’re going to both be given an opportunity,” said Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland on a conference call this week. “Whoever is the most productive and whoever does the best, whoever has the most value going into the season is going to be the starter.”
Mailata is the only one of the two who has played significant snaps at left tackle, filling in when Peters went down with a season-ending toe injury. He allowed 32 pressures in 469 pass-blocking snaps last year, allowing 6.8% of pressures allowed per drop-back in 15 games. Mailata also allowed seven sacks and 20 hurries, filling in well for a player who just started learning the game of football two years ago. At 24 years old, Mailata proved he has a future on the Eagles offensive line — even if it’s in a reserve role.
Dillard, who did not play last year due to a biceps injury, allowed 25 pressures in 170 pass-blocking snaps in his rookie season — allowing 14.7% of pressures allowed per drop-back. Dillard struggled with the ins-and-outs of NFL life since being drafted, battling confidence issues in an inconsistent rookie season that carried over into Year Two.
Improving his lifestyle, Dillard eliminated social media and added muscle. Dillard is motivated to win the job and prove to the Eagles they made the right choice trading up to select him two years ago.
“I welcome all competition,” Dillard said, via Mike Kaye of NJ.com. “I never shy away from it. I’m glad that it’s happening and it makes sense that it’s happening. Jordan came in and filled in last year, played most of the season and he did really well, so it only makes sense for the coaches to give it a little competition and not just give somebody the spot when I’ve just come back from the injury.”
Regardless what happens at left tackle, the Eagles have depth at the position — which was a major question mark at this time in 2020.