Jason Kelce confirmed he’s coming back for the 2021 season earlier this offseason. Perfect. Now the Philadelphia Eagles All-Pro center has ample time to groom his eventual successor.
On Friday, the Eagles selected Alabama offensive lineman Landon Dickerson in the second round (37th overall). The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder started the first 11 games for the Crimson Tide in 2020 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He was still awarded the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center, plus named a semifinalist for the Outland Trophy which is given to the best interior lineman in college football. Dickerson made 24 total starts on Alabama’s offensive line after transferring over from Florida State.
Career run-blocking grade in the 2021 NFL Draft Class
1. Penei Sewell, Oregon: 94.8
— PFF PHI Eagles (@PFF_Eagles) April 30, 2021
Dickerson lined up for the final snap of the national championship game even though he was hurt as a tribute to his hard work over the years. He carried head coach Nick Saban off the field in celebration after Alabama beat Ohio State 52-24 for the title. Pro Football Focus listed Dickerson as the No. 2 run-blocking center in the FBS with a 91.5 grade.
“It wasn’t about me,” Dickerson said, via Saturday Down South. “It was about being out with the team one more time. This was a special team. Just being able to be a part of that and be around those guys for that moment and that game — it’s almost like a Disney movie.”
— Matt Martellucci (@mattlucci12) April 30, 2021
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Dickerson’s Has Troublesome Injury History
There was considerable smoke about the Eagles taking Asante Samuel Jr. at pick No. 37. Their need at cornerback is well-documented and the kid from Florida State checked all the boxes. However, it’s hard to knock the Eagles for taking one of the best interior offensive linemen in the draft.
Dickerson was ranked No. 2 behind only Alijah Vera Tucker who went in the first round (No. 14) to the New York Jets. Pro Football Focus said Dickerson would have been a top-25 player if not for his season-ending ACL tear. It was the second ACL tear in four years for Dickerson, by the way. He also had two ankle injuries.
Landon Dickerson college injuries:
2016: Torn right ACL (season ending)
2017: Ankle (season ending)
2018: Ankle (medical redshirt, season ending)
2020: Torn left ACL (took a snap in title game https://t.co/aivSYi9bN1
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) April 30, 2021
Dickerson was still rehabbing during Alabama’s pro day so he didn’t participate in individual drills. The 22-year-old told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer that he was feeling fine and didn’t expect any setbacks. The MRIs and the X-rays checked out. They don’t lie. Dickerson did note that he hasn’t put on shoulder pads since November, but he’s slowly been doing some lifting and strength conditioning.
“For me, I’m right on schedule where I wanted to be,” Dickerson told Breer. “For other guys, it may be different. You can’t really lump everybody together and say this is how much time it takes because I believe everybody’s different.”
Scouting Report: ‘Nasty, Attacks Opponents’
Troublesome injury histories are commonplace in Philly, right? It’s to be expected at this point. No one can debate Dickerson’s immense potential, though. The scouting reports for the North Carolina native were all off the charts. He is an elite run-blocker with high football intelligence. Sounds a lot like Kelce, right?
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) May 1, 2021
Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network wrote the following in his scouting report:
Tough, physical center with nice size but a long injury history. Plays smart football, keeps his head on a swivel, and works well with linemates. Nasty, attacks opponents, and will hit two or even three defenders on a single snap. Stays square, keeps his feet moving, and gets his hands into defenders. Strong, seals opponents from the action with great body positioning and blocks with leverage. Effective with the shotgun snap.
Meanwhile, Walter Football called him rock-solid in pass protection and superb at fundamentals. Watch out for those medical red flags.
For the NFL, Dickerson looks like a starting center who could have a long career if he is able to stay healthy. Dickerson enters the next level with serious medical red flags, and some teams could flunk him medically given his extensive history of season-ending injuries. Teams were projecting Dickerson to be a second- or third-round pick of the 2021 NFL Draft prior to his ACL injury, and while he could still go on Day 2 of the draft, he may slide because of the medical concerns.