PHILADELPHIA - On consecutive Saturdays, the Eagles chose a tantalizing mix of potential and production over pedigree, not necessarily the easiest thing to do for an NFL general manager.
The most recent decision for Howie Roseman was Josh Sweat, once a fourth-round pick out of Florida State in 2018, over Derek Barnett, the No. 14 overall selection in 2017 who is on the last year of his rookie deal.
Rewind a week and it was the massively gifted Jordan Mailata, a seventh-round pick in 2018 as an International Pathway player, over Andre Dillard, the organization's first-round pick in 2019.
When Mailata was rewarded with his $64 million extension last Saturday, Dillard's trajectory in Philadelphia changed and his future in town is now solely dependent on the ability to add some versatility to his game, something offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland admitted when talking with reporters on Friday.
"The thing unfolds and I said, ‘Andre, when you’re not one of the five starters, you have to play multiple positions,’" Stoutland said
According to the veteran mentor, Dillard is adjusting and trying to make the most of his adversity.
"He’s been great with that. He’s been playing right tackle, left tackle. Because it’s different," said Stoutland. "Some guys have a much easier time going to the right side, so he’s been working on that right now and that’s been going pretty good."
Back in Dillard's rookie season when he was the heir apparent to Jason Peters at left tackle, the Eagles moved him to right tackle to replace an injured Lane Johnson and there was some concern, according to an organizational source, that Dillard didn't fight through the difficulty of flipping sides and cross-training.
The hesitancy was the problem with Dillard coming across as defeated after the game even started.
Dillard was so good as a LT in high school and college at Washington State that he was never asked to move and compared the thought to writing an essay with the opposite hand.
Mailata himself, who has a personality as big as his 6-foot-8, 380-pound frame, has said something similar but in a much more descriptive manner, claiming that the move from left to right and vice versa is like going to the bathroom and having to use your non-dominant hand if you get the drift.
Mailata, though, has done exactly that over the years despite arriving in Philadelphia as a complete novice to the sport.
That whole situation of Dillard's failed experiment at RT in 2019 was probably the Genesis of his difficulties in living up to the hype that accompanied him to the Eagles.
From there the injuries took over, a torn biceps that wiped out Dillard's entire 2020 campaign when he was penciled in to take over for Peters, and then a hand injury and sprained knee in training camp this year, the latter of which ended the most high-profile competition in Nick Sirianni's first summer.
“Andre obviously got injured during camp and that kind of hurt him," Stoutland said. "He was doing well. I really mean that. He was doing well. I was very happy with some of the things he was doing and then he got hurt and then it became, ‘Oh man, here we go again.’"
When camp began the Eagles rotated Dillard and Mailata each day with the former given deference due to his draft status. Mailata was outplaying Dillard even before the injuries were thrown into the equation, though.
In an offensive line-deficient league Dillard, still just 25 and in his third NFL season, will surely get an opportunity to start at left tackle in another city. The belief is the Eagles would listen to offers but would prefer to rebuild the OT's value, at least a little bit.
Any potential future in Philadelphia for Dillard, however, would be outside of LT where the Eagles have declared their intent so embracing other positions is the only option for Dillard.
“Andre’s been great," Mailata said Friday. "He’s really embraced the role now. He’s adopting what Coach (Nick) Sirianni was saying: Embrace your role, know your role. And he’s at the end of practice working on the sets on both sides.
“He’s just really trying to nail it down. So he’s working right tackle, he’s working left tackle, he’s doing everything he can to be a valuable member of this team. I respect that.”
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.