As the future of all-world offensive tackle Jason Peters remains uncertain, his prospective replacement Andre Dillard had the chance to dip his toes into the NFL waters during his rookie season.
Taken 22nd overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, Dillard wasn’t immediately forced into action and played in 16 of Philadelphia’s 17 games (including playoffs) with a quartet of starts.
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"I’m really glad I got those chances because that was what I was brought in to do in the future," Dillard said via the team website. "It helped me get my feet wet a little bit and it really helped me gauge what it’s like being out there on the big stage."
Dillard’s starts came from Weeks 7 through 9 and again in Week 12. The first three were with Peters on the mend. The 37-year-old Peters — a nine-time Pro Bowl pick — played the final season of his contract in 2019 and could potentially leave some huge cleats to fill.
"That’s why we drafted him," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "We have total confidence in Andre. He is a tremendous athlete. He’s smart. We have a lot of confidence in him."
With the physicality involved, making the transition from college to the pros on the line can be one of the more difficult. Dillard had the opportunity to get valuable experience at a slower pace among stalwarts such as Peters and Brandon Brooks during a run to the NFC East title. The 24 year old out of Washington State is plenty pleased with the rookie campaign he had and what he was able to accomplish in 346 offensive snaps.
"I can’t even describe it," Dillard said. "I’ve made my biggest jump, by far as a player. It has been an incredible learning experience."
Dillard’s days learning are likely far from over, but with Peters’ Philly fate to be determined, the soon-to-be second-year tackle might well be making another jump to solidifying a starting spot.
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