Where Jerry Tillery Fits With The Chargers Defense
The Los Angeles Chargers have quietly built one of the most dominant defensive lines in the NFL over the past few seasons. They recently drafted defensive tackle Jerry Tillery from Notre Dame in the first round of the NFL Draft. The Chargers are well positioned on the edge of the line but lack playmaking ability in the middle. Is Tillery the answer for the Chargers defense?
He appeared in six of the Fighting Irish’s 13 games in his freshman season and totaled 12 tackles and one sack. He didn’t record any sacks the following year but he did appear in 11 games while recording 37 tackles. His junior season was his breakout year as he recorded 56 tackles and 4.5 sacks. All of his hard work paid off in 2018 with seven sacks despite just 28 tackles.
The Chargers Defensive Line
The Chargers currently employ two Pro Bowl defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. They have made a name for themselves as one of the best sack tandems in the NFL. However, the Chargers don’t have much depth on the interior of the defensive line. Justin Jones is one of two returning defensive tackles from last season and has yet to start a game since being drafted last year. He had half a sack last year.
The other returning defensive tackle is T.Y. McGill who is entering his fifth year in the NFL. He only appeared in six games last season and recorded just five tackles with no sacks. His best years were spent in Indianapolis where he recorded five sacks in two years while appearing in 25 games. If healthy, he can provide a good compliment for Tillery in a 4-3 alignment.
Where Tillery Fits
Due to the lack of depth at defensive tackle, Tillery can fit in from the start. He has good size at 6’6” 295 lbs and has long arms measuring 34 1/4”. He has great speed running 4.93 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He does lack superior strength due to his 23 reps on the bench at the Combine. This is a few reps short of the upper echelon of defensive linemen but with some seasoning in an NFL caliber weight room, he should be in top shape in no time.
He has the intangibles to really add value to the defensive tackle position with the Chargers. He has the strength to bull rush an opposing guard and has the quickness to get to the quarterback untouched. He uses his hands well and seems to be a natural at dominating from the interior of the defensive line. With the addition of Tillery, the Chargers pass rush has the potential of being even better than recent years.