The Chargers aren’t getting much out of rookie Jerry Tillery, but they also aren’t giving him many opportunities to succeed. That should change this week.
Chargers rookie Jerry Tillery has had what is potentially the worst rookie season of any first-round selection under Tom Telesco. As it currently stands, Brandon Mebane is just two pressures shy of Tillery’s number despite playing about 30 fewer snaps rushing the passer. Want more bad news? No. 99 is now officially the lowest-graded first-round draft pick of the 2019 NFL Draft class, according to Pro Football Focus. Oh well, maybe the draft class overall wasn’t so great to begin with in the defensive tackle department. How’s this for a kicker: Tillery is 126th out of 126 qualifying interior defenders throughout the entire NFL, says Pro Football Focus.
Yet, despite all the shortcomings thus far, a change needs to be made: Tillery needs more snaps.
It’s a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg situation right now. Did Tillery play poorly, so his snaps were reduced? Or, has his limited snaps contributed to him playing poorly? Which came first?
Whatever the case, the rookie needs to start playing more snaps, particularly with the team no longer in playoff contention. As it currently stands, Tillery has played fewer defensive snaps than Damion Square and Justin Jones, and only 12 more total snaps than Mebane. Some argued the rookie was starting to come along and play well, considering his massive uptick in snaps in Weeks 7 and 8. However, that was without Jones and Mebane, who have returned to limit the rookie’s snaps once again.
Is playing the rookie who has just one quarterback pressure and one assisted tackle in his past five games going to help the team win this season? Maybe not, and it’s arguably just as important to get Jones the necessary snaps as he tries to develop, which he has from his rookie season to this year. But if the team wants Tillery to prove his worth next season, he’ll have to go through growing pains to get there. Giving their pass-rushing specialist just 29 pass-rushing snaps over his past three games just isn’t enough. The Chargers are out of contention, and it’s time to give the young guys more playing time.