One of the most iconic phrases ever spoken in sports history was in 1973 when Howard Cosell uttered “Down goes Frazier”. (it’s apropos for a Philly sports story because Philly is boxing and Frazier was our adopted native son) This is far less dramatic, but for Carson Wentz’s “blindside” it may as well be. A torn biceps muscle has ended Dillard’s season before it could begin. It is so for many reasons, and I’ll give you my reasons, opinion and hopefully outlook on a way to replace Big D at OT, at least for 2020. Get healthy big fella.
Why was this year so vital for Dillard?
For starters, well he was actually the starter. The Eagle’s needed to find out if Dillard is “the guy” to replace longtime anchor on the left side, Jason Peters. Drafted 22nd overall by the Birds in 2019 Dillard was supposed to take the “Tackle Torch” so to speak from Peters, who was done with the birds and who thankfully resigned this off-season.
The replacement options
Let’s start with the obvious, that’s Jason Peters. He knows the spot, it was just his spot and he is the immediate guy for the spot. Great, but the big man was being replaced by the young buck for a reason. Peters has battled the injury bug and father time. We all know the ladder is undefeated. Also, Peters is just getting acclimated with right guard so, WTF already right? What is behind Peters, if/when he goes down or stays at guard?
Prince Tega Wanogho Auburn
Who is this guy? For starters we have our very own prince, like an actual prince. Even more official then the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”. Born in the delta state, Nigeria his parents hold titles of prince and princess. He came to the US and played HS ball at the Edgewood Academy in Alabama where he was more sought after as a defensive end then offensive line. That’s a good thing, because anyone who has played both sides of the ball and was known to have “Violent hands” coming into college, knows how to scrap.
Now on to the college review. He had a rough go out of the gate, but blossomed into a second team all SEC in 2019. He is solid and strong, 6’5″ & 310 lbs he is a lot to move. His upside is huge but he is raw and untapped still, which the Eagles hoped to mold slowly. He has all that it takes to be a solid OT in the NFL but needs time to become more consistent. He has an amazing pancake, then he is late off a snap and gets beat. He will be better, and that better needs to be soon.
Jack Driscoll Auburn
Jack Driscoll is the “Swiss army knife” of the new draft crew. This guy has done and seen it alot in a very short time. After playing for 3 years at UMass he was a grad transfer to Auburn where he played right tackle. (I mean football and more football) He played multiple positions on the O line at UMass & the word out of Auburn is this guy is smart, versatile and has a mean streak in his play. He was slated to stay inside at guard based on not having enough “ass” yet he can do it all and may have to pinch hit at tackle. This guy is the definition of “next man up”. Smart and mean is a great combo to have on the O line, makes me think and miss big Jon Runyan.
There is a solid chance one of these three will be the replacement at left tackle, or a possibility the birds go grab someone who is on the couch. Marshall Newhouse and Greg Robinson come to mind and are possibilities but they are not on a team currently for a reason.
Whatever the solution is, Jeff Stoutland has his work cut out, but he has shown in the past he is up for the challenge.