There is an extreme amount of excitement around the LA Chargers heading into the 2021 season. There has not been this much anticipation around the team since the mid-to-late 2000s when the team had several future Hall of Famers on the offensive side of the football.
The main reason for the excitement is that it is a start of a new era. Brandon Staley is the new head coach and he has brought with him an entirely new staff. Mix that with Justin Herbert entering year two after a historic rookie season and it is really easy to get excited.
That excitement causes expectations and it is safe to say that Charger fans have a lot of expectations for the team in 2021. One player that fans might not have much expectations for is Jerry Tillery, who has had a rough career thus far.
Tillery was selected with the 28th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. While he has shown very minor flashes of greatness, Tillery has not been the first-round pick that the Chargers were hoping for.
His play has been wildly inconsistent and sloppy. Fans expected a jump in year two after a great performance in Week 1, but it did not come. For that reason, many fans may have given up.
That primes Jerry Tillery to be the biggest surprise on the LA Chargers in 2021.
The signs we are getting out of camp have been tremendous. Brandon Staley had nothing but positive things to say about Tillery, saying that he has had a phenomenal camp.
Staley has not been someone to mince words thus far with the Chargers. He was very upfront about the poor play of Trey Pipkins and Storm Norton in the second preseason game. So if he says someone has been tremendous, he means it.
There has been chatter around Tillery during camp but nothing that has stood out like other defensive players, such as Kyzir White and Asante Samuel Jr. That is where the focus has been among the fans while Tillery has quietly grinded away and seemingly has gotten better.
If anyone is going to get the most out of Tillery it is Staley and it truly is now or never for the former Notre Dame Fighting Irish. If Tillery cannot make that leap with Staley in his third season then he might not ever make the leap.
However, this truly does seem to be the calm before the storm. The LA Chargers need someone to step up and become the true second-best player on that defensive line and that role is Tillery's for the taking.
I would not sleep on Jerry Tillery in 2021. While he has failed to live up to our expectations before, this could be the year that he puts it together and plays up to his first-round title.