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Notre Dame DT Jerry Tillery’s athleticism, versatility should put him on Giants’ radar

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Notre Dame defensive lineman Jerry Tillery should be getting more attention than he has, even in a loaded class

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants need talent at every position on defense. And while they have more draft selections than any other team in the league, they will still need to maximize the value of their picks and select players who can have the most impact.

That not only means selecting the most talented players they can, but also players who can contribute on as many snaps and in as many situations as possible.

The Giants typically employ a “best player available” model in their drafting, and they are in the convenient (if unenviable) position of having nearly every position be a position of need. This year it is likely that a defensive front seven player could be the best player available at several of their draft spots. And if they are looking for a player with the most versatility they can find, they should be taking a long look at Jerry Tillery out of Notre Dame

Measurables

Pros

  • Elite length and athleticism for the position.
  • Active hands to deal with blockers.
  • Good play strength.
  • Good first step.
  • Positional versatility. Should be able to play any interior defensive line position.
  • Significant upside as an interior pass rusher.

Cons

  • Inconsistent pad level.
  • Can lose track of the play.
  • Lower-body flexibility and balance are questions.
  • Underwent surgery for a torn labrum in March with an expected 3 to 4 month recovery time.

Prospect Video

What They’re Saying

Criticized for inconsistency earlier in his career, Tillery put everything together as a senior and had a dominant season. His blend of power, length, mass, flexibility and athleticism gives him immense playmaking potential against the run and pass. While he is still fine-tuning some things in terms of technique, Tillery should be able to factor into the defensive line rotation right away. A versatile prospect, Tilley projects favorably to a three-technique role but he can also two-gap as a five-technique.

- Joe Marino (The Draft Network - Scouting Report)

Does He Fit The Giants?

The Giants love to mix and match their fronts, and Tillery’s athleticism would fit in well with what the Giants like to do. He has the length and athleticism to be a natural fit as a 5-technique, and when he plays with proper pad level he can be a devastating interior rusher as a 3-technique. Notre Dame even lined him up at nose tackle on occasion and he was able to handle himself well there as well.

Tillery isn’t a raw prospect, per se, but he has only begun growing as a player over the last two years. He seemed to have some significant discipline issues (both behavior and work ethic) early in his college career, but has reportedly matured greatly over the last two years.

He still has work to do as a player, needing to be more consistent with his hand usage and pad level, as well as work on keeping track of the ball during the play. When he uses his hands and length to their fullest, he can discard blocks at will, and he is virtually unblockable one-on-one when he keeps his pads down. However, he doesn’t always do it and can have curious lapses.

Tillery hasn’t been getting as much buzz as he should, and in such a talented front seven class that is hardly surprising. However, he is an excellent prospect and would be one of the most highly regarded defensive tackles in many years. He might slip to the second round, but he should be considered a first round talent.