You can excuse Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley for his ear-to-ear grin.
The Chargers had to sweat it out for over three-and-a-half hours Thursday, worrying all night long if Jerry Tillery would still be there when they finally were on the clock.
Fortunately, he was, and it didn’t take much time at all for the Bolts to hand in the card to swoop him up with the 28th overall selection.
As GM Tom Telesco explained, Tillery was the last player the team had with a first round grade. Thus, you can understand why Bradley was relieved the Chargers were able to land the Notre Dame defensive tackle.
“We talked about it as a defensive staff, and then we knew that he was a strong option right there,” Bradly explained. “To have an inside rusher like him, and the ability that he has with the ability to stop the run, he’s a great pick for us. We go through it and rank our players, and he was one of the top guys we have. (Defensive Line Coach) Giff Smith did a great job evaluating him. Our scouts and (General Manager) Tom (Telesco) and his group obviously did a great job, and they had him pegged at that position. So, we were hoping he’d fall to us.”
What exactly did the Bolts love about Tillery?
“His length (is impressive),” Bradley explained. “He has really good length. He’s disruptive. You’ve got to have a guy who can play the run, but his ability to rush (the passer from the interior) can help as well. We didn’t have as many balls batted down at the line of scrimmage as we would have liked, and his ability to do that with his length should help in that area as well. But he can really disrupt. He can affect the quarterback.”
Meanwhile, the newest Charger made it clear this was one of his preferred destinations for several reasons, including the talent along the team’s defensive line.
To that end, Bradley agrees Tillery is in a rare, fortuitous position not many first-year players are afforded.
“I think that’s going to be huge,” the defensive coordinator said. “Whenever a rookie comes in and there’s a good veteran group in there that knows how to play and what the standard is, and can demonstrate that to him, that’s important. So he just has to focus on getting better every day. He’s going to have a lot thrown at him. He’s coming into a whole new environment. But he’ll do a great job. We’re so excited for him. So just work, and you’ll see the progress being made.”