The Los Angeles Chargers made the most of having a late first-round pick.
The team needed to get tougher in the trenches, that was the main narrative heading into this draft. General manager Tom Telesco chose not to re-sign free agents Darius Philon, Damion Square and Corey Liuget and though some may have considered that a bit risky, the decision to draft Jerry Tillery in the first round made up for it.
Tillery is a long, disruptive defensive tackle with the ability to rush the passer. He could be a day one starter for the Chargers, so long as he bounces back as expected from shoulder surgery in March.
At Notre Dame, Tillery had 12.5 career sacks to go along with 23 tackles for loss. He is quick off the snap and has the ability to blow right by the initial blocker in order to destroy a play.
I like what the Chargers did with this pick. They let the board play out and just stuck to their board, taking the top guy on their list. I especially like that the team didn’t fall into drafting a cornerback or a safety at this spot.
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The true weaknesses were at offensive tackle and defensive tackle. Those were the only options in the first round. Jawaan Taylor, Cody Ford and Dalton Risner were all still on the board, but the Chargers felt that Tillery was the right pick.
As thin as the team was at defensive tackle, it’s hard to argue that he wasn’t.
As for a grade for this pick, there’s not much to dislike. Tillery did have shoulder surgery but should be back in time to take part in training camp this summer. Should that go well, expect him to start eating reps in practice before cracking the starting lineup.
It’s a bit early to call this pick a home run, but Tillery does check off quite a few boxes for the team.