#20 Jerry Tillery Defensive Line, Notre Dame
One of the most underrated and least talked about defensive lineman in this draft class is Jerry Tillery. This is likely a result of his inconsistent production throughout his career at Notre Dame. During Tillery’s first three seasons, he managed four sacks and recorded eight sacks in his forth and final season as a Golden Domer. His game against Stanford, where he had four sacks, will have NFL scouts and general managers drooling over his potential as a pass rusher. If Tillery’s senior year is any indication of how his NFL career will unfold, he could be a steal for teams picking in the early to mid 20s.
Tillery has shown elite pass rush skills. He combines great hand usage, great feet and athleticism to beat offensive linemen. He is great at swiping offensive linemen’s hands away and his athleticism allows him to stay balance and sack the quarterback. His feet and athleticism also help him as a run defender, as it is extremely difficult to reach block him.
As a pass rusher, Tillery needs to develop more moves as he is too reliant on one stunt and that will make him too predictable for NFL offensive linemen. He needs to become more accurate when shooting his hands because he will often land them on the helmet or outside the shoulder pads of the offensive lineman. This in turn, reduces his strength and power. When Tillery was accurate with his hands, he showed the ability to get extension on and shed offensive lineman’s blocks. More consistency in this realm will improve his effectiveness as a run defender. He also struggles with more physical offensive linemen. Far too often, he will get pushed around in the trenches and either needs to get stronger or play with more physicality.
While there certainly is room for improvement for Tillery as a run defender, he could become an elite inside pass rusher in the NFL.
Fit for the Raiders
The Raiders should seriously consider Tillery if he’s still on the board at pick 24. Yes, they do have a handful of defensive dackles on the roster, but his abilities as a pass rusher would extremely valuable to the Raiders. Assuming they take an edge rusher with the fourth overall pick, using that selection on Tillery could lead to a dramatic improvement in Oakland’s biggest weakness from last season.
The Ravens lost pass rushers Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs in the offseason and Baltimore has always prided itself on having a good defense. Tillery could step in and fill the hole that Smith left on the Ravens’ defense. Currently, the Seahawks are starting Nazair Jones at defensive tackle and Jones has only managed 26 tackles and two sacks in his career. Tillery could be a day one starter for Seattle. The Vikings don’t particularly need anyone on defense, but Mike Zimmer could be pounding the table for Tillery if they don’t like any of the offensive linemen available.