The Los Angeles Chargers are 11 games into the 2019 season and Jerry Tillery has been a complete non-factor.
Going into the 2019 draft, the Chargers had some pressing knees but few fans and many analysts would have suggested the team do anything but draft an offensive lineman in the first round. Instead, Tom Telesco opted to go for the best player available and select defensive lineman Jerry Tillery.
In his defense, Tillery had a first-round grade from most draft analysts. However, he has failed to live up to his high draft status in the eyes of most. In 11 games, he has five tackles and 1.5 sacks.
While any talk of Tillery being a bad pick or a “bust” is entirely premature, his rookie season has been a massive disappointment. When the Chargers were gouged by the New England Patriots’ rushing attack in the playoffs last year, the thought was that if the Chargers could shore up the defensive tackle spot and get an athletic guy who could rush the passer and stop the run, the team would be much improved.
Instead, Tillery started slowly as a rookie and was clearly behind in training camp, prompting the team to go with players such as Damion Square and Sylvester Williams instead. Both of those players have played quite well.
According to Pro Football Reference, Tillery has been in on 40.6 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. Watching games, he does display enough effort to make plays, he just needs a little more time in the team’s system to develop and some more experience in games to get to the point where he makes the plays.
However, since hindsight is always 20/20, here is a look at some of the offensive linemen taken shortly after Tillery that the Chargers could have had instead.
You probably saw various mock drafts that had the Chargers taking each of those players leading up to the draft. Telesco felt there was more upside in taking Tillery and at this point, it’s a bit too early to say he was wrong.
Did the team and its fans expect more from the rookie at this point? No doubt. But maybe expectations were a bit too high. If he has this kind of season again next year, then maybe calling him a “bust” will be appropriate.
For now, he’s been nither great or terrible, which goes along with the story of the Chargers’ season.