With his rookie season in the books, tackle Andre Dillard has his sights set on the role he will play in the 2020 season.
The Washington State product saw action in all 17 games (including playoffs) this year, while making four starts – three at left tackle and one at right tackle. He was called into significant action when six-time All-Pro tackle Jason Peters went down with a knee injury in the Week 6 matchup against the Vikings. Dillard is grateful for the small taste he got of what it's like to start in the National Football League.
"I'm really glad I got those chances because that was what I was brought in to do in the future," Dillard said. "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."
The future is quickly approaching. With Peters' contract expiring this year, the left tackle position for the 2020 season is currently unsettled. If Dillard is called upon to fill that role, head coach Doug Pederson believes the first-round draft pick can deliver.
"That's why we drafted him," Pederson said. "We have total confidence in Andre. He is a tremendous athlete. He's smart. We have a lot of confidence in him."
Dillard saw 346 snaps on offense this season, but more importantly, he was able to witness a stellar offensive line firsthand. With over 44 years of NFL experience combined, the 2019 Eagles starting line offered a plethora of advice and tips for the young tackle. This guidance from the veteran players and Dillard's physical growth have allowed him to elevate his play to a new level.
"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."
The offseason is a time for mental and physical relaxation, and that is exactly what Dillard intends to do. Ever since the Eagles traded up three spots to select him in the 2019 draft, the 22nd overall pick has experienced the whirlwind that comes with being a first-round selection. As Dillard continues to work on his strength and technique this offseason, he will take the time to look back on the journey that brought him to Philadelphia.
"Breathe," Dillard said when asked what he will do this offseason. "Just take a minute to reflect for a little bit on everything that's happened since the end of my senior year. I haven't really got a chance to do that and be proud of myself and what I've done."