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Andre Dillard would be a fitting left tackle, if the Buffalo Bills can make room

Even in a crowded positional group, Dillard could earn a starting role on Buffalo’s roster.

Andre Dillard may not have been the first name on everyone’s minds when offensive tackle rankings were compiled back in January, but the senior’s had a great couple of months, and is now all but locked into the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Coming out of pass-happy Washington State, how does this left tackle stack up with Buffalo’s team prototype? Let’s evaluate.

Team Fit

In recent memory, the Buffalo Bills tended to focus on huge, powerful players who could push a pile when adding their linemen. And to a certain extent, Sean McDermott’s most recent offensive tackles fit that mold:

  • 6’4” 320 lb Dion Dawkins
  • 6’8” 305 lb Conor McDermott
  • 6’6” 315 lb LaAdrian Waddle
  • 6’8” 330 lb Ty Nsekhe

The 6’5” 315-lb Dillard, with shorter 33.5” arms, doesn’t perfectly fit that physical mold. He also doesn’t possess a stout run-blocking acumen. However, the team’s more recent signings (including center Mitch Morse and running back Frank Gore) have definitely been known for their pass-blocking efficiency, so the team may be changing its mindset in that department.

A redshirt senior who had a great week at the Senior Bowl, Dillard is definitely on Buffalo’s radar. His outstanding athletic ability also can’t hurt. The biggest issue might be a positional logjam. Dillard’s best fit is at left tackle. That’s where Dion Dawkins has been playing. If Dawkins moves, where does he go? Right tackle (where Nsekhe would be slated to start)? Left guard (where Quinton Spain was expected to battle Wyatt Teller)? Right guard (Spencer Long)?

Player Comparison

Speaking of Dillard’s athletic talent, he rates as “elite” in that department with a SPARQ score better than 97 percent of all offensive linemen. The best match is probably Atlanta Falcons tackle Jake Matthews, who also measured 6’5” and 315 lbs with 33.5” arms. Matthews had an excellent Combine workout, was a vaunted pass protector out of Texas A&M, and recently signed a five-year, $72 million deal with his team.

Another good comparison is former Carolina Panthers tackle Jordan Gross, who measured 6’5” and 300 lbs during his draft year. Gross was another outstanding pound-for-pound athlete.

Sample Play: Pistol Spread Left 67 Seam Illinois Flare

This play call features a five-step drop for Josh Allen. Depending on the defensive formation, there’s a hot read to the TE on a hook route built into the 67 protection. Otherwise, he will read left to right, hoping to land a 12+yard gain with either of his first two targets.

This play sends out five receivers and stresses the defensive coverage, but that also puts pressure on each of the linemen to hold their blocks. Andre Dillard, playing left tackle, will be one-on-one against a defensive end protecting Allen’s blindside on a deep drop. It’s the kind of play that highlights Dillard’s quick feet and clean pass protection technique.

Dillard may not seem like a clear fit for Buffalo at first glance, but the team’s more recent focus on pass protecting linemen over run blocking linemen suits him well. If he can navigate the logjam at the position today, he makes a lot of sense as the team’s first-round pick.