NASHVILLE – Andre Dillard has done his film work. During his time at Washington State, Dillard immersed himself watching video of the Eagles' offensive line, particularly left tackle Jason Peters, and he's studied the future Pro Football Hall of Famer, looking closely at the perfect technique, the hand placement, the feet, the balance, and explosiveness that Peters uses to dominate. As the Eagles' first-round draft pick, No. 22 overall, Dillard is going to experience something special learning elbow-to-elbow from Peters.
"It means the world. I'm going to finally get to meet him and pick his brain as much as I can. There's a great group of guys there that I can learn from," Dillard said on Thursday night. "It's kind of like a 'wow' moment for me. It's real. It's really happening. I can't even put into words how I feel right now.
"It's an honor to be on the same team with him."
The Eagles moved up in the draft to take Dillard, an offensive lineman they had as a "top 10 player," said Howie Roseman, bringing to Philadelphia a big, athletic offensive tackle who is going to have some time to learn from Peters and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Dillard, whose father Mitch also played at Washington State, started 39 games at left tackle there and understands that he's got a transition to make at the NFL level.
"All of the hard work I've put into reaching this point, it's just a start," he said. "The work doesn't end. It's just awesome. Philly? That just blew my mind. It's such a good feeling."
Dillard started playing football in eighth grade, joking that he did so to gain "cool" points in school. He laughs about it now, but the progress he made in such huge gulps wasn't fun for defensive linemen who couldn't gain any traction working against a young man who grew to be 6-5 and 315 pounds and who last season was named a third-team All-American by The Associated Press. Dillard combines great size, excellent feet, long arms, and intelligence as the Eagles look to the future with their first-round draft pick.
The fit, from Dillard's perspective, couldn't be any better. He was aware of the Eagles' interest in him early in the draft process, but the truth is that Dillard was stunned that the Eagles made the move to 22 to pick him.
"You can expect a good character guy out of me. I'm a very coachable guy, willing to learn and willing to be the best, and willing to do what it takes to be the best," Dillard said. "I'm a very athletic guy and a strong guy. You're going to get a lot from me."
Dillard said he couldn't sleep much at all on Wednesday night and that was OK. He paced in his hotel room, he did a few pushups, and he visualized what the first round of the draft might be like.
"I tried my best, but how can you sleep with a day like this coming up?" he said. "It's so exciting."
As he waited to hear his name called, Dillard picked up the telephone. The Eagles were on the line. Well, for a moment he wasn't quite sure who he was talking to because the line cut out for the "first 30 seconds or so." Then Stoutland and head coach Doug Pederson jumped on the line and Dillard heard "Philadelphia Eagles."
And then it became emotional. Tears. Hugs with his family. Reality.
The Philadelphia Eagles. A destination Dillard hoped for all along after he interviewed with the team at the Senior Bowl and then, later, after a phone conversation with Stoutland.
"It's an amazing feeling, it truly is," Dillard said.