SOUTH BEND, IN – SEPTEMBER 15: Jerry Tillery #99 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes against Devin Cochran #77 of the Vanderbilt Commodores at Notre Dame Stadium on September 15, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Vanderbilt 22-17. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The 2019 NFL Draft hosts a large number of defensive talent. An elite prospect the Kansas City Chiefs can’t ignore is defensive tackle, Jerry Tillery.
The Kansas City Chiefs lost two of their top pass rushers this offseason in Justin Houston and Dee Ford. While they’ve bolstered the defensive front with the signing of Alex Okafor and the trade for Emmanuel Ogbah, the Chiefs could use some impact talent in the 2019 NFL Draft to improve the unit. One prospect who merits consideration is Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery.
Some Chiefs fans might wonder why they’d select a tackle when the team selected defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi in the third round just one draft ago. Nnadi had a good season his rookie year and earned more playing time as the season went along, including earning starter’s reps over Xavier Williams. That was the plan all along for Nnadi, but adding Tillery to the mix would still be a great addition to this defensive front.
Tillery had a breakout season in 2018 during his senior year at Notre Dame. He showed improvement each season with the Fighting Irish and still could develop even more at the next level. He deserves more hype than he’s getting in a crowded draft class, and some of the criticisms about Tillery have been heard before. They surrounded another defensive lineman who now shines for the Chiefs.
Most of the criticism on Tillery bases around being a streaky player that needs to be more consistent who is also somewhat raw in his hand usage. If these are true criticisms, Tillery could become an elite talent in the NFL quickly as he polishes his technique much like defensive tackle Chris Jones did a few seasons ago.
Kansas City moved back into the second round to select Jones and the reason they were able to do so were concerns about lack of effort and ball production. This past season, Jones continued to improve and develop into an elite defensive tackle by pulling in 15.5 sacks. Jones is best known for his athleticism, which makes Tillery even more appealing because he had multiple combine scores that were higher than Jones, including the 40-yard dash, the vertical leap, the broad jump, and short shuttle. He came within .01 seconds of Chris Jones’ 3-cone drill time as well.
If the Chiefs want to add another freak of an athlete that could become an elite interior pass rusher quickly, they should strongly consider Tillery. Let’s take a closer look.