Eagles first-round draft pick Andre Dillard landed in Philadelphia for the first time ever on Friday and he’s ready to hit the ground running — or driving, because he did mention his first big purchase might be a vehicle of some kind so he can get around.
In the few interviews he’s done since last night’s No. 22 pick, Dillard has talked about being a very coachable player and someone who is always looking to improve and learn something new. He also mentioned he’s never been to Philly before, is excited to explore the city, and even more so to meet his teammates and get to work.
Dillard — who will wear No. 77 — met with the Eagles media in person for the first time on Friday afternoon, and here’s what the first-round pick had to say:
On his skill set
Dillard acknowledges that he hasn’t been asked to do a lot of run blocking, but it is something he’s worked on since the college season and he says the three-point stance felt pretty natural to him at the Senior Bowl. Dillard said he’s excited to get to work and get better at all aspects of his game.
He talked about how having so much experience at pass protection is definitely a good thing though, and has helped him develop the technique and poise to be really solid in that role.
“I do think that having a leg up on pass protection is helpful for me, because it is something that is really hard to master.”
He gave up only 1 sack last season, and he remembers exactly what it was because he’s really critical about his game and where he needs to improve. Dillard noted that on that sack, his weight was a little forward and his hands weren’t inside, so the defender was able to pull him down and get to the quarterback.
On playing for the Eagles
The first-round pick was asked about being greeted at the airport by a big contingent of Eagles fans.
“It was an amazing feeling, I felt like some kind of super hero.”
He said it was a really good feeling, to feel that passion and that he’s heard that the Philly fans, the media, everyone is passionate about their Eagles.
Dillard also mentioned that Jason Peters was one of the tackles he’s studied over the years. He talked about the first thing he noticed about Peters was how big he is, but how well he moved and how quick he was for his size. Dillard said Peters was always someone he knew he could learn a lot from and will now have that opportunity first-hand.
He doesn’t know what his exact role will be in Year 1 and that right now he’s just meeting everyone and being shown the ropes, but he’s happy to do whatever the team asks of him.
Dillard said he got a text from Carson Wentz on Thursday night, and the quarterback just said he’s super excited for the offensive tackle and can’t wait to get to work with him.
On his early development as a player
He talked about when he first started playing in 8th and 9th grade he wasn’t as aggressive as he is today, but can certainly be mean enough on the field despite being a nice guy off the field.
Dillard credited the coaches he’s had during his career since high school having taken him under his wing and having kept pushing him when things got tough. When things did get rough, he didn’t step away from the game because one of his character traits is to finish what he started.
He got to college weighing in at 240 and that was the big reason he was under-recruited, but that Mike Leach and the staff took a chance on him. He gained about 20-30 pounds each year, and started out at 310 his senior season. Dillard said he lived in the weight room, filled his backpack with snacks and would eat late at night to put on weight — even setting an alarm for 2 a.m. to down a protein shake and go back to bed.
He said he kept the same general technique despite adding all that weight, so as he added weight he worked hard to be a fast, big guy.
Dillard said the most important reason he stay at Washington State for the 2018 season was to get his degree, and that was his priority — making sure he had a Plan B for after football — rather than declaring for the draft early.