Andre Dillard: Why the Philadelphia Eagles might not trade former first-round pick this offseason

Andre Dillard hasn't lived up to expectations as a first-round draft pick, but the Philadelphia Eagles don't need to move on just yet.

INDIANAPOLIS — With Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata bookending the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive line, former first-round pick Andre Dillard has been pushed into the background, or more appropriately, the bench, heading into his fourth season. However, just because the Eagles don’t have room in the starting lineup doesn’t mean they’re eager to move on from the Washington State alum.

Andre Dillard still brings value to the Eagles’ line

Last season, the Eagles were forced to use multiple backups at every offensive line position but center. Isaac Seumalo and Brandon Brooks, the team’s starting guards, were lost early in the campaign. Brooks’ immediate fill-in, Jack Driscoll, had two separate stints on injured reserve. Nate Herbig and second-round pick Landon Dickerson were asked to step up as the line became a turnstile.

Dillard, who lost the starting left tackle job to Mailata during training camp, was asked to start four games at the position when his successor dealt with injury issues of his own. Furthermore, Johnson missed time due to personal issues stemming from mental illness. Dillard played well in spot duty and proved that he was a valuable backup, even if he’s only limited to left tackle for the most part.

“Just to think that he can only play left tackle limits him and probably does him a disservice, but having a really good offensive line is important,” GM Howie Roseman said about Dillard at the NFL Combine on Wednesday. “Having depth on the offensive line is important.”

Roseman doesn’t need to rush to move Dillard, either

The Eagles need to determine whether or not they’ll pick up Dillard’s fifth-year option by May 3. If he’s positioned as a backup, the Eagles aren’t likely to pull the trigger on the option. That said, if Dillard were to be traded to a team to be a starting left tackle, the acquiring team would likely want the opportunity to make the choice on his option.

If the Eagles trade Dillard during the 2022 NFL Draft (April 28-30), the acquiring team will be able to decide on Dillard’s future, as opposed to acquiring him on essentially a one-year deal. If a team is trading a third-round pick for Dillard, they probably like him enough to make a long-term commitment to him.

Roseman doesn’t need to press. He can wait out free agency and the first three rounds of the draft to build leverage on the trade market. If a team misses out on its left tackle target in free agency or the draft, the Eagles could pounce at the opportunity to add value for him. Still, they need to sell the league on the idea they want to keep Dillard as a valuable player to the organization.

“It’s hard to find offensive linemen who can move and who can bend,” Roseman said. “The amazing thing is Andre is working out every day right now. I’m not allowed to really talk to him about anything, but you can see, he looks great. Upper body, lower body, he’s really determined. He wants to play.”

The reality check

Dillard has played in just 31 games (nine starts), and while he played relatively well last year, he’s still never been a full-time starter in the league. A team looking to acquire Dillard would need to be sold on his upside and athletic ability, as well as his mental toughness.

Is last year’s performance enough to reassure a talent evaluator and encourage them to trade a Day 2 pick for him? It’s a “beauty in the eye of the beholder” situation, which could eventually lead to the Eagles realizing that trading Dillard for the sake of moving him might not be the most logical move.

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