It’s Draft Day, so before tonight’s festivities in.....Nashville start, I figured it would be good to look at one more prospect on Thursday morning. This time we’re checking out Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery.
Tillery, born in October of 1996, is 22 years old, is 6’7 and 305 lb. In his senior season with the Fighting Irish, he posted 7.0 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 17 solo tackles. He’s been considered a first round pass rusher by many, and is that enough for the Titans to take him at #19?
Let’s take a look at the tape to find out.
Tillery’s tape against Stanford is sensational. In that game he collected four of his seven sacks on the season, and was constantly disrupting the Cardinal offensive line.
Here, Tillery combines a bull rush with aggressive upper hands to send the right guard to a different realm. His push on the guard allows him to reach the inside of the interior pocket (a little redundant, yes), bringing the quarterback down for a sack while nearly strip sacking him.
Two of Tillery’s sacks in this one came on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter, so we’re going to look at both of those.
This time he gets the strip sack off of the stunt. And on the very next play...
...Tillery uses a rip move to force his way inside the B-Gap. He places his hands on the left guard’s shoulders and uses the rip move to create outside leverage. He takes K.J. Costello down for yet another sack.
While the rest of Tillery’s season can’t compare to the monster game against Stanford, he was still really good outside of it. Let’s take a look at a couple more clips.
It’s a six-man protection scheme on this play, with the running back being used as an extra blocker. Most of the Vanderbilt line holds the fort for the quarterback, all except for the left guard, who gets the two-step club move treatment from Tillery. Tillery’s efforts result in another strip sack of a defenseless quarterback.
Interior pass rushers love to use club moves, and Tillery is no different, but that’s also what makes him appealing as a pass rushing prospect. He doesn’t bring anything new to the table (Like that’s even an issue...), but he’s an explosive, athletic interior pass rusher.
As a run stopper, Tillery can’t compare to his ability as a pass rusher, but there’s some stuff to like in this department. The quick burst and bend Tillery gets on this run stop are both awesome. With that said, I’m not huge on prioritizing a defensive lineman’s ability against the run. Stopping this part of the offense is clearly important, but we exist in a time where stopping the quarterback via the pass rush is more significant.
If there’s one complaint I have with Jerry Tillery, it’s that he’s not quite as consistent of an interior pass rusher as a guy like Christian Wilkins, let alone Ed Oliver or Quinnen Williams. Still, for his size, and considering his peak plays, he does more than enough to warrant a first round pick in my mind. It wouldn’t be the worst option for the Titans to draft him at #19, though I might prefer Wilkins at that spot if he’s available.
Nevertheless, Tillery is an appealing defensive tackle in a loaded class of pass rushers, and whoever is getting him is getting a raw athlete with plenty of potential. Perhaps that team is Tennessee.