Chargers head coach Brandon Staley spoke with the media on Thursday for 60 minutes on a variety of topics from free-agency additions to the team's "Star" and "Money" positions on defense.
Staley also went in-depth on Los Angeles' first- and second-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft: defensive tackle Jerry Tillery and safety Nasir Adderley. As both players enter their third NFL season, the head coach sees both as integral pieces in his new-look defense.
Tillery appeared in all 16 games last season with 11 starts. He totaled 30 tackles, three sacks and 14 quarterback hits. Adderley made 14 starts on defense in 2020 (69 total tackles, one interception) and also flashed late in the season on special teams.
In Week 14 against Atlanta, Adderley had a 76-yard kick return, the team's longest of the season. Two weeks later against Denver, Adderley returned a kick for 53 yards.
Below are Staley's thoughts on both players.
"I'm a really big fan of Jerry Tillery's game. I think this guy is a versatile inside player. I think he is an inside player. This guy has real size and speed. This guy's production last year jumped off of the page for me. I know that people want to magnify some of the sack production, but I think the tape — what the film said — told me a different story. I think that this guy is a matchup guy inside. He has real quickness. He has real pass rush ability. Like you said, he does have the ability to play on the edge. I think he was moonlighting on the edge. He can give you a physical body presence. If you're playing a heavy run team and you want to put a physical presence out there, he has that versatility to do it.
"We certainly view him as an inside player. Certainly, where he is going to give us the biggest advantage is as an interior pass rush. We feel like this guy has a chance to be a complete player. This guy is a lot more tough, physical and rugged in the run game than I expected. I know that when I watched him, I was really excited to work with him because he does have the versatility and traits that we really value inside."
"He missed really all of his first year, so last year was really the first time that he was playing in the NFL. Derrick Ansley, our secondary coach, worked with Nasir at the Senior Bowl coming out, and he had a really high opinion of him. I think that he's our type of safety. He can see in the deep part of the field. He's smooth. He has a lot of defensive back traits for us. He has some versatility. We feel like he has some slot flex, whether he's playing 'Star' or 'Money.' Really think he's a smooth athlete.
"We definitely can see in the deep part of the field, which we value. We think that he is going to be a good fit for how we want to play. I just think that secondary environment that we have, with [defensive coordinator] Renaldo Hill, a 10-year NFL safety, D.A. [Ansley], [assistant secondary] Tommy Donatell, we think that it's going to be a great environment for him to grow."
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