Yahoo Sports' top 2019 NFL draft prospects, No. 20: Washington State OT Andre Dillard

Yahoo Sports

Leading up to the 2019 NFL draft, which starts April 25, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down 10 at a time, followed by profiles on our top 30 overall players.

Previous entries: Nos. 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30. Drew Lock | 29. Deandre Baker | 28. Taylor Rapp | 27. Garrett Bradbury | 26. Dexter Lawrence | 25. Jerry Tillery | 24. Josh Jacobs | 23. Christian Wilkins | 22. Cody Ford | 21. Noah Fant

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20. Washington State OT Andre Dillard

6-foot-5, 315 pounds

Key stat: Dillard’s broad-jump number at the NFL scouting combine (118 inches) tied for the third-best mark in the past 20 years among all offensive linemen. The record, set in 2018 by UCLA’s Kolton Miller (who was the 15th overall pick of the Oakland Raiders), is 121 inches.

The skinny: Dillard was a lightly recruited, 240-pound tackle who was attracting interest mostly from lower-level programs (Eastern Washington, Idaho, Portland State) before the Cougars entered the picture. Dillard’s father, Mitch, had played for WSU in the 1980s and Andre committed in early 2014 before redshirting his freshman season – when he was 17 years old to start the year – and playing three games as a reserve left tackle (backing up 2016 Detroit Lions fifth-round pick Joe Dahl) in 2015.

Dillard finally got his full-time chance in 2016, replacing Dahl at left tackle, and he’d go on to start the final 39 games of his career at that spot. He was named honorable mention all-Pac-12 by the conference’s coaches in 2017 and elevated to first-team all-conference and third-team AP All-American as a senior in 2018.

Dillard, who turns 23 in October, had a standout week at the Senior Bowl as well as at the NFL scouting combine.

Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard, No. 60, prepares to block Oregon linebacker Justin Hollins in 2018. (AP Photo)
Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard, No. 60, prepares to block Oregon linebacker Justin Hollins in 2018. (AP Photo)

Upside: Lean, chiseled physique. Nothing holding him back athletically. Combo of wide frame and athletic profile put him in elite territory. Exceptional testing numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.96 seconds), broad jump, 3-cone drill (7.44 seconds), and 20-yard shuttle (4.4 seconds). Great balance and weight distribution. Natural knee bender who maintains good leverage and positioning.

Rare smoothness to his movement – silky, ease kick slide. Traps and pulls well and doesn’t whiff in space. Gets into his jump sets and 45-degree sets quickly and holds his water. Nice get off, strike, stick and finish. Passes off defenders well and climbs to find the next target. Head and eyes stay up and on a swivel. Loves to get out on screens and shovel passes to lead the way – always tries to get his paws on one more guy. Clean and crisp in combine OL drills – might have the best feet and mirror skills of any OL in this year’s draft class.

Sneaky-good jab punch. Not a mauler but plays with a little pop. Looked the part in one-on-one pass-rush drills at the Senior Bowl. Here’s a great rep against Montez Sweat, who was the toughest rusher to block in that setting in Mobile:

Hard-working and studious. Quick thinker – plays an intellectual brand of ball and is a fast processor with overload pressures, stunts and twists. Still relatively new to football despite his 39 college starts – didn’t start playing the sport until he was in eighth grade. Allowed only one sack on 677 pass attempts in 2018, and Cougars often were in five-man protections, so he was on an island.

Downside: What happens when he’s asked to pass protect on a seven-step drop? Or fire off in the short-yardage run game against a loaded front? We just didn’t see much of that on tape in his four seasons under Leach. Not much to evaluate in terms of vertical sets or sustained blocks. (It should be noted that he had a good week in this department down at the Senior Bowl, lining up in a three-point stance and performing well).

Either way, there will be an adjustment to NFL blocking schemes, no question. Still developing with his hand placement, reach timing and set points. Could stand to show a little more grit and nastiness at times. Will catch some blocks and doesn’t finish with quite as much gusto as you’d ideally like to see. Strangely ineffective in his tandem blocks – doesn’t move people and rarely dominates those reps. Didn’t face a slew of elite rushers his final two seasons. Struggled earlier in his career with ferocious, high-energy, active rushers (such as UCLA’s Takk McKinley).

Better pass protector than run blocker at this point. Run-block fundamentals a bit crude, but potential to improve is there. Still shows some hip stiffness and will take a moment to gear up from his stance. Can get beat by long-armed defenders, even in pass pro. Watch here in the Senior Bowl as Iowa’s Anthony Nelson (35-inch arms) get Dillard to lunge and lean:

Not naturally massive – has had to work to beef up to 315 – and maintaining that weight for a decade could be taxing on his body.

Best-suited destination: As systems and concepts from the “Air Raid” offense leak into the NFL, a player such as Dillard carries even more appeal. He already profiles as perhaps the best pass-blocking tackle in the class, but questions about Dillard’s transition to a “pro style” offense are not quite as concerning as they might have been a generation ago. He should step in with a chance to start Day 1, either as a left tackle or perhaps as a left guard or right tackle.

Among the teams that could have the most interest in Dillard’s services include the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons

Fun fact: Dillard’s grandfather, Clyde, was an All-American at West Virginia State, and he did not let his son, Mitch, play football until his freshman year of high school. Mitch eventually spent parts of three seasons playing offensive lineman at Washington State (where he was teammates with Mark Rypien) before converting to tight end and linebacker, playing professionally in sub-NFL leagues. Mitch held back his son, Andre, from playing football until he was in eighth grade, but that didn’t stop the younger Dillard from becoming a great college player.

They said it: “The first tackle I started watching was Tyron Smith. He’s a phenomenal player, master technician. I was like, ‘If I wasn’t to be one of the best, I’ve got to learn from this guy.’ He helped me a lot without directly helping me, just by watching him. I watch other great tackles like Joe Staley, Jason Peters, Trent Williams, Joe Thomas. Just a bunch of great tackles that kind of help me.”

— Dillard at the combine, on studying NFL tackles

Player comp: Jake Matthews (we couldn’t quite make the Joe Thomas comparison – too rich for our blood, but Dillard has similar patterns to his game entering the NFL)

Expected draft range: Top-25 pick

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