The 2019 NFL Draft will be a great event for teams to start building for their future. The Game Haus will be doing scouting reports on some of the top prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. Notre Dame defensive lineman Jerry Tillery has been a leader on the Fighting Irish defense for a few seasons and will now try his hand at the NFL level.
Position: Defensive Tackle
2018 stats: 28 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two forced fumbles
Size: 6-foot-6, 295 pounds
Notre Dame’s defense wasn’t always great during Tillery’s time at Notre Dame, but he was a major reason why they improved over the last two seasons. His effort has afforded him the opportunity to be one of the potential early round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.
As a member of the Fighting Irish, Tillery had 133 total tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He got playing time as a freshman and helped Notre Dame qualify for the Fiesta Bowl. The team and defense had a rough season in 2016, but Tillery solidified himself as a regular starter. In 2017 Notre Dame improved and so did Tillery, who registered career highs in almost every statistical category. For the 2018 season, Tillery was a leader on a defense that led the Fighting Irish to the College Football Playoff.
After a stellar career at Notre Dame, Tillery is now a good defensive lineman in a deep draft class. His size and versatility will make him wanted by several NFL teams in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Tillery has great size for a defensive tackle. At 6-foot-6 and 295 pounds, he will be hard for interior offensive linemen to block. With his size, he also can overpower whoever he is matched up against. He can shed blocks easier than most defensive tackles, which helps him be disruptive.
He gets off the ball quickly, setting him up to be a great pass rusher from the inside. Tillery can use his strength to push the pocket, but also has a variety of moves to get to the quarterback. His moves include the club, rip, swim and a few more. There are times when he shows better pass rushing ability than defensive ends in this draft class.
Tillery has also shown to be capable of stopping the run. He sheds blocks well and has good gap integrity. He also has the ability to get outside of his gap to make the play. His tackling is also solid helping him finish off the play.
While Tillery does have the ability to take over some games, other times he disappears. He was great this season against Stanford and Michigan, but against lower-level teams, didn’t always produce as much as he should’ve. This will bring up questions about his consistency, desire and motor.
Tillery can move decently for a defensive tackle, but it could be better. He can show in drills that he has the flexibility and quickness to be successful. If he can’t show it off in drills, he should still be able to be a successful pro, but that could keep him from being great.
There are also some off-the-field issues with Tillery. He was seen kicking an injured USC player as a sophomore and was sent home from the Fiesta Bowl as a freshman for a violation of team rules. It looks like he has grown since those times, but NFL teams will want to get to the bottom of it during interviews.
Projected Draft Range: First round-Second round