Eagles’ Dillard: ‘I’ve been told that the media, the fans, everybody, are all about their Eagles’

The Philadelphia Eagles really wanted Washington State LT Andre Dillard, and on Thursday night, they made sure they got him. Philadelphia traded the 25th overall pick, and a fourth and sixth round pick to Baltimore to move up three spots to grab Dillard with 22nd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

In Dillard, Philadelphia gets one of the top offensive linemen in this Draft. The 23-year-old Dillard could be the heir apparent to nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters.

Today, Dillard was introduced to the Philly media.

Here is what he had to say:

Q. So last year, according to Pro Football Focus, you were the top pass blocking tackle in college football. What adjustments are you going to have to make from the college game to the NFL game?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, so coming from that [Washington State head coach] Mike Leach offense at Wazoo, we definitely passed the ball a lot, so I kind of got a leg up on the pass protection aspect of the game. There’s that question, can this guy run block? You know, there hasn’t been much film of that. I haven’t been asked to do that a lot but since the end of college, I’ve been working a lot on that part of the game and I’m going to continue to do that and I’m really excited.

Q. You mentioned Washington State head coach Mike Leach’s offense, you’re in a two-point stance most of the time and not a lot of run blocking in that offense. How do you think you’ll take the next step at this level doing three-point stance and run blocking? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, like I said, you know, at the Senior Bowl, I kind of got my first glimpse at being in a three-point stance and it felt pretty natural for me to do that and put the hand in the dirt and just drive somebody off the ball so if that was a lot of fun I can only imagine what the next chapter in my life is going to be like and I’m just really excited to get to work and improve in every way that I can.

Q. Along those lines of pass blocking versus run blocking, I think there are some thoughts that people question whether you are mean enough. Can you be mean enough on the field? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Of course. You’ve got a little taste of that over my film and over the Senior Bowl film. It’s just a switch. Like people will think I’m not capable of being a mean guy on the field because I’m nice right now, but there’s that switch and you’ve got to know when to be mean and when to be nice.

Q. I think I read that when you first started playing football, you described yourself as a “wuss.” Can you just talk about playing with a little bit of an edge? What changed during your high school career? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Well, by wuss, I meant, you know, when I first played in eighth and ninth grade, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never hit a person before, so I didn’t – I was unsure if that was okay and it’s like, yeah, you have a helmet on. Just go out there and – yeah, over the years of progressively getting better at the game I just fell in love with it more and more and just put more of my body and soul into it, and so, definitely gotten a lot more aggressive over the years.

Q. Going back to where you were when you first started playing in eighth grade there to where you are today, can you believe that, hey, I’m a first-round pick and you’re standing here with the Philadelphia Eagles today; if you go back to that point, would you have thought that idea would be crazy to be here today? 
ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, a lot of the time I do go back and think about those times. It never even crossed my mind that I would even be like a college player. You know, so it just – thinking about the journey that I’ve had up to this point, it really is something special.

Q. So how did that happen? How did you get from that point as a lightly recruited player, as a redshirt player to a first-round pick? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Really I just – the coaches that I’ve had growing up, I’ve been blessed to have. Some of the best men in my life, with those guys, and they really took me under their wing and showed me everything about the game and always encouraged me to keep going, keep pushing, when times got really tough and I was discouraged in myself.

When things weren’t going well real early, what made you stick with it? Why didn’t you give up? 

ANDRE DILLARD: I’ve always just had this thing about me where I like to finish what I started. I don’t ever want to leave anything with regrets, and I just really kept trusting it.

You’ve already graduated, right? So how important was that to get your degree, too?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, that was probably the most important reason that I stayed and didn’t go early, and it really was a benefit to me in all different ways, football included. I just think the degree is the most important part because that’s why you’re in college. That’s the main thing that you have to do. You have to have a plan B because you’re not going to play football forever.

Q. When you arrived, fans were waiting at the gate and cheering your arrival. What was that like for you, and then what have you been told about Philadelphia and what these fans are like?

ANDRE DILLARD: That was just an amazing feeling. I felt like some kind of superhero. It was a really good feeling and just to feel that passion from the Philly fans right there. I’ve been told that the media, the fans, everybody, are all about their Eagles. Very passionate group, community, and I’m just really excited to be a part of all that.

Q. So I think you only gave up one sack last season at Washington State. Do you remember the one sack and how much pride do you take in a stat like that, only giving up one when they pass the ball as much as you guys did? 

ANDRE DILLARD: I remember that same exact play. I sometimes like dreamt about it because I’m just really critical of myself and everything that I can do better on each play.

Q. The Eagles have T Jason Peters obviously at left tackle for now. Did they tell you what they would like to see from you this year and if there’s an opportunity and they really want to get you on the field, would you play guard or would you learn another position on the line at all? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Right now, I’m just kind of here meeting everybody, showing me the ropes around the place right now. Whatever they need me to do, I’m here, ready to do it and ready to work.

Q. Getting back to that one sack, what do you remember about it?

ANDRE DILLARD: I do remember that my weight was kind of forward and my hands weren’t all the way inside on that particular play, and so he kind of just got a hold of my shoulder and kind of pulled me down forward and went inside. I’ll always remember that play.

Q. A lot of scouting reports praise you for your technique. How have you kind of developed that technique throughout your career and has your dad helped you with that at all having his experience?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, my dad played a huge part in my football development, especially in the earlier stages. I would always have him for advice throughout the years and not just football, but life in general. He’s been just the greatest role model for me and after every game, he would kind of critique me a little bit here and there. Tell me about certain plays and all that. But the technique standpoint, I used to watch a lot of [T] Jason Peters and, [T] Tyron Smith with the [Dallas] Cowboys and [T] Trent Williams, [Washington] Redskins. Just some good tackles, [Green Bay Packers T] David Bakhtiari. I just liked to watch some of those high-end tackles and kind of watch what they do with their technique.

And I’ve heard just lots of different pointers from different coaches everywhere.

Q. Coming from a program where you guys threw 50, 60, 70 times a game, was there a point where you really thought this is going to really help prepare you for the NFL, which every year is becoming more of a passing league?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, I do think having a leg up on pass protection is helpful for me because it is something that is very hard to master. It takes a lot of precision, technique and just poise and everything. And so you really have to study and take lots of reps in order to master something like that. So I think it definitely helps me with that transition.

Can you take us through just how much your body changed over the course of your time at Washington State?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, so I came into Washington State at 240 pounds, and that was the sole reason I didn’t was kind of under-recruited, and [Washington State head coach] Mike Leach and the staff over there just kind of took a chance with me. You know, let’s see if we can put some meat on this skinny kid, and it just turned out to work really well.

I gained about 20 or 30 pounds each year, and started at 290 my sophomore year; and then about 305 the next year; and then 310 my last year. So, it worked out pretty well.

Q. What did you do to put on all that weight?

ANDRE DILLARD: I just lived in the weight room, really. I’d go between class and fill my backpack up with snacks. I’d eat late at night because apparently that’s how people gain weight a lot. (laughter) I would set an alarm for two in the morning and drink a protein shake and go back to sleep.

Q. What kind of snacks?
ANDRE DILLARD: Those peanut butter and jellies in the bags, that was a popular one there. (laughter) And just little bars and bananas, all that good stuff.

Q. Did you have that make any changes to your game as your body grew? Did you have to learn to do different technique?

ANDRE DILLARD: I kind of kept the same general technique because when I first came in, I was as fast as the receivers because I was only 240. I tried to keep that same technique while putting on the weight so that I could be a fast big guy.

Q. Have you had a cheesesteak yet?

ANDRE DILLARD: I haven’t had a real one.

Q. There’s a lot of pressure and expectations that come with being a first-round draft pick. The fact that you will not likely have to be thrown into the fire and play right away and can learn from a guy like Jason Peters, will that help alleviate some of the pressure and expectations where you can really learn and focus and not have to worry about the other things picks have to worry about?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yeah, sure, you imagine that if somebody were to not have to be thrown in right away, you know, they would get a lot of extra time to develop their skills and learn from the best of the best. But like I said before, whatever they needed me to do, regardless of what it is, I’m ready for it.

Q. Of the great left tackles you’ve watched, is there anybody you’re specifically drawn to, because you compare yourself to them physically or anything of that nature?

ANDRE DILLARD: Physically, I like to compare myself to Tyron Smith. We have almost the same body. He’s definitely a lot bulkier than me, but I like to kind of compare my game to his a little bit.

Q. Was it difficult following in your father’s footsteps?

ANDRE DILLARD: At first, because I didn’t like football at first when I first got on the field. But, you know, I always just stuck to it. I love my dad a lot and I trusted his words a lot, so.

Q. Did he push you?

ANDRE DILLARD: In a way. Not necessarily push, but he was more of encouraging. He was always supportive of what I did in my life. But if I did ever feel like giving up on something, you know, he would kind of step in and be like, ‘Hey, you know, you don’t want to live life with any regrets.’ That’s kind of where I got that finish-what-you-started thing.

Q. At what point did you know that you were going to be a first-round pick? Was it during one of your recent years?

ANDRE DILLARD: Kind of. I didn’t start thinking about the NFL until maybe midway through college. And then that’s when my coaches were kind of like, ‘Hey, you know, these scouts are coming through asking about you,’ and I was kind of surprised. I was like, ‘Are you sure it was me?’ (laughter) But that give me some confidence, and then as the words started coming in more and more about NFL this, scouts this, it kind of just clicked in my head like, ‘Hey, you know, I can do this,’ and I started comparing myself to NFL players or just players that I played with that are in the NFL now, like Joe Dahl with Detroit and Cole Madison with Green Bay. I’m pretty good friends with Austin Corbett at the Browns. So, I just kind of compared myself to those players and I was like, ‘You know what, I can be as good as them and play at that level, too.

What happened at a younger age that got you to turn around and like the sport? Was it one specific instance or anything? 

ANDRE DILLARD: There was an instance when I got to my sophomore year because our high school was a three-year high school, sophomore, junior, senior – so when I got to high school those coaches were a lot different than what I had in junior high. The ones I had in junior high were kind of counterproductive, trying-to-bring-you-down type.

Then when I got to Woodinville High School, Coach Monan, the offensive line coach, and Coach Maxwell, they were really good to everybody and good to me and took me under their wing and that gave me a boost and they really were patient and worked with me. I think that’s what kind of flipped it for me right there.

Q. Did you ever think of quitting before you got to that point?

ANDRE DILLARD: Before I got to high school? All the time, yeah. It’s really discouraging when you come in late, all your friends have been playing the game since they were in third grade and I’m in eighth grade and they all kind of know what’s going on and I have no idea. It’s kind of scary. It’s scary like that. So you — it’s hard to want to keep going but something inside me just told me to keep going.

Q. Would you say that you benefit more from positive reinforcement and that type of coaching than as you said the more negative? (Jeff McLane)

ANDRE DILLARD: I think at that age, yeah, positive reinforcement would have been a lot better because you’re a young kid still and you don’t react to yelling as well as you would at an adult age like I am right now. And so I don’t think it carries over that much at all. Like right now, I’d take any kind of coaching because it’s all about what they say and not how they say it.

Q. What’s the reason you didn’t start football until later? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Mainly just because I liked basketball a lot and I thought that would be my sport, and I was a little nervous to start football because I knew it was a pretty aggressive sport. I didn’t picture this happening, either.

Q. You talked about the one sack you gave up and how much it kind of weighed on you. How do you deal with failure in general as you’re about to make a pretty big jump in your life? 

ANDRE DILLARD: Failure in general, in anything, not just football, I really take time to analyze what things went wrong and I just learn from it.

Q. We know Washington State University football head coach Mike Leach is a unique character, but you’re here, so what did you learn from him that has helped you reach this point in your life? 

ANDRE DILLARD: The biggest thing I learned from Coach Leach is really, it’s a thing that he says probably sixteen-ish times each practice, not that exact number but just an estimate [laughter]. But he says it a lot, and it’s just, “Play the next play.” Whether you did good or bad on a play, all that matters is the one in front of you because if you did good, you can’t showboat and be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m the guy,” and then just get ran over in the next one. And if you do something bad, you can’t hang your head on it. That’s the biggest thing, have a short-term memory, but be able to adapt and learn if you did something wrong.

Q. If pro football wasn’t in the cards all along, so to speak, then five years ago when you first stepped foot in Pullman, Washington what were you thinking would be your life after college?  

ANDRE DILLARD: I had no idea, honestly. I was just kind of going where life was taking me.

Q. Have you thought at all about what your first, big purchase will be?

ANDRE DILLARD: Maybe a vehicle of some sort so I can get around.

Q. You mentioned that you have watched a lot of tape of Jason Peters. What impresses you the most about him as a player?

ANDRE DILLARD: The first thing I noticed was just how big he is and how he can move that body that well. How strong he is and athletic. I noticed his technique is just some of the best I’ve ever seen, and what other people have seen, so it was just — I instantly knew that this is a guy that I can learn from and little did I know, I could actually be in his presence as well.

Q. Have you heard from QB Carson Wentz or do you know about Wentz at all?

ANDRE DILLARD: Yes, he actually texted me when I got drafted.

What did he say?

ANDRE DILLARD: He’s just super excited for me and happy to have me aboard and excited to work with me.

 

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