The Philadelphia Eagles made an expected move away from their first-round position of No. 25 in the NFL Draft on Thursday night to select tackle Andre Dillard of Washington State following a trade with the Baltimore Ravens to move up to No. 22.
The Eagles sent their first-round pick, a fourth-rounder (127) and sixth-rounder (197) to the Ravens to acquire the pick.
That leaves the Eagles with just four more picks in the draft. But their two second-rounders remain, which was important to executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman when putting this trade together for a player he said they never dreamed of being able to get.
“Our evaluation was this was the top tackle in the draft, and usually those guys go in the top 10,” Roseman said.
“This is a guy that we had ranked as one of the top 10 players in the draft. We didn’t anticipate the opportunity to go up and get him when the day started. ... For us, it’s always about taking the best player.
“... This is certainly not a need position. We have a Hall of Fame left tackle [Jason Peters]. And [Dillard] has got a great opportunity to come in and learn from Jason.
"We’re trying to load up on the lines. We talked about that with you guys, and that’s how we roll.”
Dillard seems as happy with the Eagles as they are with him.
“I was kind of surprised to see that they had traded up in order to get me,” he said in a conference call. “So that was a serious blessing and a pleasant surprise. ... It’s just a huge honor to be able to be on the same team as a great veteran player like [Peters], and I’m looking forward to competing with him, getting better with him and learning a lot from him and everybody else there.”
Dillard will be officially introduced at a press conference at the NovaCare Complex on Friday afternoon. He was in Nashville Friday night for the first round of the draft.
Coach Doug Pederson wouldn’t say whether the team would consider Dillard as a potential short-term replacement at right guard if Brandon Brooks has to miss significant time while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.
“Right now I see him as coming in here and learning and hitting the ground running and just feeling out the playbook," Pederson said. “And when J.P. is there, he gets to learn from one of the best.”
Roseman said Dillard has “room to grow" but was a top-10 player on the Eagles’ board for a reason.
“We think he’s got great feet,” Roseman said, “and a really, really smooth pass protector. Long arms, big hands, great character. You can see [him working well in] a lot of the things we do offensively."
Their interest in Dillard began before the Senior Bowl in January, Douglas said, and then spiked up from there.
“He had a great week,” Douglas said, “and we couldn’t be more excited to have him.”
Roseman described how the excitement began to grow as Dillard’s name remained on the board throughout the first 20 picks.
“Total anarchy,” he said. "You know, I think for us it was important to us that we protect those two second-round picks. ... I’m fortunate to have one big guy sitting on my left and one big guy sitting on my right, and when I come up with crazy ideas they kind of give me this look.
“When we had the opportunity to go up, and it’s a lot – there’s two players there with a fourth and a sixth – but it’s also an opportunity to get a top-10 player on your board.”
“Anarchy” also accurately describes the process in which Dillard discovered the Eagles were drafting him. He said he answered a call coming from Philadelphia “with the speed of sound” but the voice on the other end kept cutting off, so he wasn’t sure what was happening for a few anxious seconds.
“I was freaking out like, `Is this call going to fail?' And then I finally hear a voice, but he had already told me what his name was and I didn’t hear it, so I didn’t know who called me initially,” Dillard said. “And then he passed the phone around the room to [offensive line] Coach [Jeff] Stoutland and Coach Pederson. So it was pretty cool.”
The Eagles particularly like how quickly he moves, a skill that he also showed at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 40-yard dash of 4.96 seconds.
“His foot quickness, his lower body flex, his ability to redirect – those are all very intriguing things to us,” Douglas said.
Here are some other noteworthy items from around the league in Round 1:
The Oakland Raiders, who guarded their plans like they were nuclear missile launch codes, took Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth pick.
Ferrell was a solid player on a national championship squad but widely considered to be a mid- to late-first round prospect.
So they sent all their scouts home for this?
Say WHAT, Part II
The New York Giants finally made their move on a potential quarterback of the future, and like Oakland may have reached a bit with their selection of Duke’s Daniel Jones at No. 6.
Jones was rated as the 99th best overall prospect by The Draft Network and No. 39 by NFL.com, which had Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State and Drew Lock of Missouri ranked ahead of him.
Believe it or not
Incredibly, Haskins, taken by Washington with the 15th pick, became the first quarterback from the Big Ten to be drafted in the first round since Kerry Collins of Penn State in 1995.
We kid you not.
Here’s a great read on that dubious distinction by David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
Morning Call reporter Nick Fierro can be reached at 610-778-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.