PULLMAN – The phone call nearly went to voicemail, but after a few rings Andre Dillard reluctantly put the controller down, paused his video game and picked up.
Had he sent the NFL through to his answering machine, they surely would’ve found some other way to tell the ex-Washington State left tackle he was one of 23 prospects being invited to the 2019 NFL Draft, held April 25-27 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Receiving the news firsthand had to make it that much sweeter, and Dillard’s grin that much wider. After a round of phone calls to family members and coaches, the projected first round draft pick then communicated the news to his former offensive line mates in Pullman.
“He texted us a long time (ago) when he got the call,” center Fred Mauigoa told reporters Tuesday. “And he said he was playing video games when he got the call and he said he almost didn’t pick up the phone.”
Fortunately, Dillard won’t have to worry about any phone calls on the night of the 25th. Just about every analyst and prognosticator has predicted the All-American tackle from Woodinville, Washington will be selected in the first round of the draft and a formal invite to the three-day event in Nashville only reaffirms that train of thought.
The NFL hosted 23 prospects for the 2018 Draft, including seven of the top 10 choices.
WSU has had at least one player taken in the Draft every year since 2013 and the Cougars have had 27 players selected since quarterback Ryan Leaf was drafted second overall in 1998. But Dillard will become just the first player since Leaf to attend in person and could be just the fourth since Leaf to be taken in the first round (Deone Bucannon, Marcus Trufant).
“We’re all excited for him,” Mauigoa said.
Dillard is widely thought to be the top available offensive tackle available in the Draft and helped his case with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine and WSU Pro Day, which was held last week in Pullman. Twenty-eight of the NFL’s 32 teams attended Pro Day and the Carolina Panthers flew out General Manager Marty Hurney to meet with Dillard in person and watch him go through positional drills.
Most mock drafts have pegged Dillard as a top-20 pick and NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah considers him the 13th best overall prospect. A recent mock draft from The Athletic suggests Dillard will be taken by the Miami Dolphins with the 13th overall pick.
These are the other 22 players that will attend the Draft with Dillard: QB Kyler Murray (Oklahoma), LB Josh Allen (Kentucky), CB Deandre Baker (Georgia), WR Marquise Brown (Oklahoma), DE Brian Burns (Florida State), LB Devin Bush (Michigan), TE Noah Fant (Iowa), OL Cody Ford (Oklahoma), TE T.J. Hockenson (Iowa), RB Josh Jacobs (Alabama), QB Daniel Jones (Duke), QB Drew Lock (Missouri), WR D.K. Metcalf (Mississippi), DT Ed Oliver (Houston), DE Montez Sweat (Mississippi State), OT Jawaan Taylor (Florida), LB Devin White (LSU), DT Christian Wilkins (Clemson), CB Greedy Williams (LSU), OT Jonah Williams (Alabama), DT Quinnen Williams (Alabama).