Name: Andre Dillard
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Washington State
Dillard is the quintessential athletic left tackle. He is probably the smoothest mover at the position in the entire class, and his combination of quickness of experience should lend him early run on the blind side. He will have to adapt to NFL offenses after four years in an Air Raid scheme, but Dillard’s ceiling is as high as anyone’s.
As far as length goes, Dillard is not quite the ideal for the position. His arms came in at 33 1/2 inches at the combine, which is adequate, but shy of longer NFL tackle measurements. He makes up for his modest length, however, with a strong, tall frame and quick feet, so his shorter arms have rarely been a detriment. The rest of Dillard’s frame is prototypical NFL tackle. His legs are long but powerful and he is thick through his trunk.
One of the more athletic tackle prospects to come around recently, Dillard’s fluidity is his greatest selling point. From his kick step to his slides to lateral run blocking to open field blocking, Dillard is silky smooth and remarkably quick for a man his size. His feet are pitter-patter, yet controlled when engaged, and he has tremendous ability to mirror even the most elite of pass rushers. As expected, Dillard put numbers to his tape at the combine with best scores among tackles in:
- 40-yard dash
- Three-cone drill
- Broad jump
- 20-yard shuttle
But more than the numbers, Dillard clearly stood out among his peers in all on-field drills. The mirroring and kick step drills especially were his bread and butter, thanks to his fluid hips and unusually quick feet.
Dillard’s style and Washington State’s scheme does not offer much look into how truly powerful Dillard is. So many of his reps are straight drops against pass rush, without many straight-ahead blocking or finishing opportunities. That said, Dillard is rarely over-matched by bull rush or in the run game. His quick feet give him good balance and reset ability, and create drive against power. Dillard’s anchor can be a bit inconsistent when he comes in high, but he is good at regaining his base and dropping his hips when he needs to. His hands are strong, both in strikes and when locking in. Defenders typically have trouble clearing once Dillard gets inside.
Like stated before, Dillard’s film does not have a lot of one-on-one, power against power run reps. The majority of run plays have Dillard mirroring the edge rusher, very few have him engaging at the point of attack. On those reps, Dillard shows a good anchor and hand placement, and uses his quick feet to maintain his position. On the few reps where Dillard is called to fire out and engage, however, it is more of a mixed bag. Perhaps because those plays are few and far between, Dillard at times overextends himself, firing too out of control and leaving himself open to push-pull. When he is more composed, however, his base is strong and his feet can create movement.
In space, Dillard shows promise. He pulls with good speed and conviction on the rare occasions when called upon. He can sink low and deliver blows on the move, which bodes well for his transition to zone-based schemes and more second-level blocking. Wherever he ends up, Dillard’s quick feet and athleticism are going to drive his early success.
So much of Dillard’s pass blocking success comes down to his lower body. His slides are quick, efficient and smooth, both vertically and horizontally. He can kick with any manner of speed rusher, anchor against power or counter inside moves. In fact, his athleticism has taken him so far in this area that it may have masked some underdevelopment in other areas. For one, Dillard’s hand placement is a bit inconsistent. His punches have good power behind them, but they often come in high and thus lose effectiveness. Dillard’s ability to reset his hands is solid, but that initial punch can leave him open. He also is not one to forcibly ride defenders upfield, since he is typically able to slide with them. This could hurt him at the next level when athletic pass rushers can get his edge and bend under him.
That said, Dillard’s combination of quickness and strength is going to be a problem for pass rushers. He is almost always in good position with good leverage, and his quick hands and feet give him some leeway in recovery. His strengths are unteachable and his weaknesses come from inexperience as much as anything. Good coaching is likely the only thing Dillard will need to reach his high ceiling as a pass protector.
Drafting Dillard would likely necessitate Riley Reiff’s move to guard, something the Vikings have reportedly discussed. With Dillard on one side and Brian O’Neill on the other, the Vikings would have arguably the most athletic tackle duo in all of football. The hang-up would be having Dillard fall to 18. His combine performance drew a lot of eyes, and with the Giants acquiring Cleveland’s first round pick, it may be tough for Dillard to slip past 17.
Transitioning from an Air Raid offense to an NFL run-pass balanced offense could be a challenge for Dillard. That said, the Vikings’ system would play to his strengths and could make him a day one starter. Under Kevin Stefanski, Minnesota figures to maintain their zone- and screen-heavy attack, which would allow Dillard to make blocks on the move and work more in space. That would ease the transition for him from a college offense where he was never asked to aggressively fire off the ball.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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