Earlier in the offseason we discussed the Eagles’ biggest positional needs. Today we will take a look at the defensive tackles in the draft. The Eagles have held onto a strategy along the defensive line where they acquire “fastballs,” or guys who can get to the quarterback. While this sounds pretty usual for NFL teams, the Eagles rotate their linemen constantly throughout the game to keep them fresh while the opposing offense gets worn out. The idea is to keep up constant pressure to exhaust the opposing line, while having the depth to always have someone fresh who can generate a pass rush.
So far we have taken a look at Christian Wilkins from Clemson, who could be available in the first round of the draft. Today we have another prospect:
The Prospect: Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
We at Underdog really like Jerry Tillery. He is our 14th best prospect from our first big board, and our 3rd best DT. Other analysts don’t tend to view him as highly as we do, as Matt Miller has him as his 39th best prospect. We valued his quick pass-rush ability and the pressure he could create in the pocket.
Tillery is a big guy, standing 6’7″ tall and weighing 305 lbs., making him a good size for the NFL meaning he will really be able to swat balls down from opposing QBs.
Tillery played for an exciting Notre Dame defense, accumulating 135 tackles- 24.5 of which for a loss- and 13.5 sacks in his 50 games.
Take a look at his film against Stanford this year:
On the very first play, Tillery is in the backfield and in on tackling Bryce Love. However, at 0:46 Tillery is slowed down by Bryce Love, which is not a good look. At 1:19 Tillery is right in the face of the QB and almost gets the sack.
At 2:01 he gets pressure inside with a nice move on the right tackle, and on the next play makes a great effort to get in on the goal line stop. At 3:03, Tillery has a great jump on the snap. I rewatched it a few times to be sure he didn’t jump offsides, and he didn’t. This isn’t usually something I’d really care about in film, but it was fast.
At 3:35 Tillery shows off a bull rush and gets the sack against Nate Herbig, one of the top guards in the draft. At 5:03, Tillery creates pressure, gets a hand on the ball, and causes an incompletion that should’ve been an interception. He then gets a sack at 5:38, where a few guys get close to the QB but Tillery gets the finish.
6:02 is a great play by Tillery, and shows off what he is capable of as a pass-rusher. He gets the strip sack and makes it look easy. Oh, and he makes a sack on the very next play, too.
And now, his highlights. Beware, the music is NSFW. It was the only highlight video I could find:
Jerry Tillery is a good pass-rushing DT prospect for the NFL. Most of his best plays come when the defense knows it’s a passing down, and Tillery can just attack the QB. His play against the run wasn’t nearly as good, but wasn’t too bad to be a major concern.
Tillery had his character called into question when he kicked a player in the head who was suffering a head injury, so that is something to keep in mind.
I’ve seen some mocks and scouts thinking Tillery could be selected towards the very end of the first round, while others think he could fall to the early third round, so I would say expect him to be taken in the second round.
Matt Miller has him going at pick 50 to the Vikings.