News & Analysis

2019 NFL Draft Profile: Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame

Sep 10, 2016; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback Julian Love (27) defensive lineman Jerry Tillery (99) and the Notre Dame leprechaun celebrate after Notre Dame defeated the Nevada Wolf Pack 39-10 at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

There may not be a more undervalued prospect in this draft than Notre Dame interior defender Jerry Tillery. As PFF’s second-ranked interior defender and seventh-overall prospect, Tillery is a pass-rush machine who consistently beats the man in front of him. His run defense is suspect, but his explosion off the line makes him worthy of a top-10 selection in this draft.

[Editor’s Note: To view all of Pro Football Focus’ advanced stats and grades for draft-eligible players, check out our 2019 NFL Draft Guide. All EDGE and ELITE subscribers already have access to the guide, and for those who don’t, you can get your copy for as low as $9.99!]

Tillery was one of the FBS' best pass rushers last season, tying Quinnen Williams with the highest pass-rush grade for an interior defender. His quick hands and advanced pass-rush moves gave him the highest pass-rush win rate in the class. Furthermore, Tillery excelled when a defensive stunt was called, as he had by far the highest pass-rushing grade as well as the best win rate in the class on those plays.

Tillery may be one of the best pass-rushing interior defenders in the class, but his play has declined significantly against the run. Among PFF’s top interior defenders, he ranks 10th in run-defense grade. However, his stellar athletic ability means that he should be able to develop into a suitable run defender at the next level.

When looking at past draft classes, Tillery compares well with current Kansas City Chiefs interior defender Chris Jones. In college, both had advanced pass-rush moves which made them astounding pass rushers with large, athletic frames. As a second-round pick in 2016, Jones was an absolute steal for the Chiefs considering he posted an elite 91.0 overall grade this past season. Tillery could be this year’s Chris Jones, and he is bound to outplay his draft position.

All of PFF’s 2019 NFL Draft Profiles can be viewed here or on PFF’s YouTube Channel. Follow along as we go through all the top prospects in the draft.

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