The Chargers had a huge hole to fill at the DT position, and Tom Telesco and company did just that with their first-round pick from Notre Dame, Jerry Tillery.
For the second year in a row, the Chargers added a key piece to their already great defense with their first-round selection (28th selection) in the 2019 NFL Draft. Jerry Tillery was a four-year player at Notre Dame who really began to shine his junior season. Standing at 6’6″, Tillery brings versatility and size to the defensive line that, when paired with Bosa and Ingram, could be the league’s best defensive line trio.
Tillery was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana and attended Evangel Christian Academy. While being dominant on the defensive line, he also was an absolute stud of an offensive tackle. As a senior, he made the MaxPreps All-American team as an offensive tackle. This wasn’t surprising for someone that size, but his ability to play both sides of the ball was outstanding.
Tillery had a good career at Notre Dame, finishing with 134 tackles (24 for loss) and 13.5 sacks. The mixture of size, strength and speed made Tillery a force to be reckoned with. His true breakout year was in 2018 (senior season), where he recorded a team-best eight sacks and added three forced fumbles. His dominance in the middle demonstrated his potential to become a first-round pick.
Impact on Team
As previously stated, Tillery could be a perfect fit for the Chargers defense that has already proved to be full of playmakers. The Chargers finished last season with 38 sacks, which was tied for 19th most in the league. This seems rather underwhelming for a defense that carries so much talent, especially with two former Pro-Bowlers on the line in Bosa and Ingram. Obviously, Bosa missing nine games played a key role in this, but the lack of interior pressure also added to the inconsistinsies in the Chargers’ ability to pressure the quarterback. Tillery is a player that can bring that much needed interior pressure.
His success this season will depend heavily on his health. Tillery was coming off a torn labrum around draft time, but according to NFL analyst Ian Rapaport, that shouldn’t be a concern:
Big news for #NotreDame DT Jerry Tillery, a potential 1st rounder, after his appointment with top shoulder doctor, Peter Millett in Vail: Tillery is ahead of schedule in his rehab from March 6 shoulder surgery & fully expects Tillery to be ready for full activities in early July.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 22, 2019
Tom Telesco, once again, seemed to find the perfect fit for this team in the first round. Jerry Tillery should excite a lot of Chargers fans, and could be the missing piece in making this defense the best in the NFL.