You never know who is going to be available when you’re picking 28th overall.
However, as soon as the Bolts were on the clock and Jerry Tillery was still on the board, the team wasted little time sending in their pick.
It’s easy to see why.
All it takes is a quick look at what some of the biggest names in the industry had to say about Tillery leading up to the draft, as they universally praised his high ceiling:
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah
“Tillery has rare height/length for the position. He is a very streaky player on tape. As a pass rusher, there are games where he dominates (see: Stanford game, when he logged four sacks) with a combination of quick hands, power and effort. However, there are other games where he's content to hang on blocks and play too high. In the run game, he flashes the ability to stack, toss and pursue the ball. He still needs to lower his pad level, but he rarely gives ground at the point of attack. Overall, Tillery isn't going to fit every team, but he shows some flashes, similar to DeForest Buckner. He just needs to become more consistent.”
NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein
“Tillery is a projection-based prospect with first-class traits and dominant potential, but he's still searching for more consistency from game to game. While his frame is suited for a role as an end in a classic 3-4 scheme, he has plenty of tape showing he shouldn't be scheme dependent on the next level. Scouts would like to see more dominant tape considering his size and power, but if he takes coaching and learns to unleash his hands, he could become an unruly interior force and good three-down starter.”
The Ringer’s Danny Kelly
“Tillery is a really fun albeit inconsistent player. When he’s on his game, he’s a powerful, slippery interior rusher who uses his length to rag-doll defenders and his quick first step to explode through gaps. He had stretches of games during which he looked like DeForest Buckner or Chris Jones, but disappeared at times as well. If the Chargers can unlock Tillery’s potential and get him to play with more consistency, they might’ve gotten a star at no. 28. I like the value—he was no. 22 overall on my board—and love the thought of the former Golden Domer playing next to Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. GRADE: A+”
ESPN’s Todd McShay
“There's a lot to like about his upside. He's a well-built defensive tackle with excellent length and top-end speed. His vertical jump (32 inches) and short shuttle (4.33) results were outstanding, and he flashes as a pass-rusher and stacks blockers in the running game.”
Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner
“When it comes to the top 10 of the NFL draft, general managers want rare talents. Players with certain skills that make you think they can be an elite player in the NFL. I’m here to tell you that Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery is one of them. You’d be hard pressed to see many talking about Tillery in the top-10 conversation, but from a size, athleticism and production standpoint, Tillery is the most accomplished defensive tackle in this class after Alabama’s Quinnen Williams….despite ranking third among interior players in total pressures with 48, Tillery tied Williams for the highest pass-rushing grade at the position in college football. A big reason why is because Tillery had 32 such wins as a pass-rusher that didn’t result in a pressure — the most among all interior defenders in college football. When it comes to winning one-on-one interactions, Tillery is as good as it gets.”
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco, Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso
Ryan Wilson & Chris Trapasso: “Tillery has an explosive first step and his raw strength coupled with effective hand usage makes it incredibly difficult for offensive linemen to sustain blocks. He's a constant disruptive presence in the backfield on both run and pass plays and displays good awareness. Has unique size (6-foot-6) and is impossible to move off spot with the power to regularly collapse pocket"
Pete Prisco - "Chargers: A I love the selection. I think this kid has got great upside. The Chargers needed to get better on the defensive line and they needed to get tougher. They needed to get better inside, we saw that in the playoff loss to the Patriots.”