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Andre Dillard film analysis: An athletic, natural left tackle

This Cougar is another first-round tackle prospect.

The Buffalo Bills have been connected with probably a dozen potential targets for their first-round selection, but one dark-horse candidate is Washington State’s Andre Dillard. The collegiate left tackle either held a private workout or a pre-draft visit with the Bills, so they definitely have interest in him. But as a slightly undersized athlete from a high-octane spread offense, he probably wasn’t the first name to come to mind. Could he be Buffalo’s left tackle of the future? This is the film room—let’s find out.

Dillard looks a little small on tape. At 6’5” and 315 lbs with 33.5” arms, he is on the smaller side for an offensive tackle. Otherwise, the standout trait is definitely his outstanding ease of movement. Dillard quickly moves into position, he has clean and smooth footwork in his backpedal, and he can adjust to defenders at the second level.

In the running game, Dillard’s not what I would call a people-mover. That being said, he’s mobile, athletic, and a fantastic combo blocker. He has great potential in zone running plays that allow him to get a piece of a defender and move up to the second level to attack a linebacker.

I saw him hold his own and maintain gaps, but this isn’t his forte. He would occasionally struggle against defenders with a powerful upper body (especially if a defensive tackle split out toward the edge and was his primary opponent).

Dillard does have a solid punch with some force behind it. It’s not especially strong, but he makes use of momentum/angles against the defender, and that amplifies the effectiveness in his hand fighting. He keeps his hands up at chest level while pass protecting, which prevents opponents from grabbing his chest despite his shorter-than-average arms.

Dillard won’t be beaten around the edge. He’s simply too agile and too balanced for a speed rusher. He’s at his best when he can mirror his opponent, and counter moves didn’t seem to phase him. Overall, the pass protection technique was excellent.

The Wazzu offensive line was well-coached on handling overload blitzes. Dillard, his left guard, and his running back were usually on the same page about who blocked whom. Small detail, but it’s nice to see (especially since the Bills frequently had protection assignment mishaps in 2018).

My biggest fault with Dillard is that occasionally he can be walked backward by an opponent with low pad level. He has been learning a snatch and trap to deal with those situations and often re-anchors, but it’s a weakness in his game. You don’t want to see the pocket closing into your quarterback (especially when said quarterback has exaggerated reactions to feeling pressure).

One small note I took while watching is that Dillard and the rest of his linemen were sometimes a beat late to respond to the center’s snap. I’m not sure what the reason was. I also want to reiterate that Dillard does a great job on combination blocks. He looks for work and helps his teammates if there’s an opening. A few of the top tackles in this class share that trait, which is an encouraging sign for the rookie class as a whole.

Overall, Dillard surprised me (and more than a few other evaluators) with his impressive game tape. While he wasn’t as highly-thought-of when the offseason began, I think he’s pretty well established as the best senior offensive tackle in the draft (and a first round prospect). His pass protection talent and technique is excellent, and that’s the most important trait for an offensive tackle. He didn’t have much experience with the running game, playing in Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense, but he has the tools to be an effective on-the-move blocker. He should be considered a dark horse for Buffalo’s ninth overall pick, especially if their goal is to find a natural left tackle for their team.