The Journal Gazette
Friday, April 26, 2019 12:00 am

Notre Dame's Tillery taken 28th by Chargers

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The Los Angeles Chargers used the 28th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft to select Notre Dame defensive lineman Jerry Tillery, the first Irish player taken in the draft. Tillery is the first Notre Dame defensive lineman to be drafted in the first round since 1997.

Tillery, a 6-foot-6, 295-pound tackle, continued an impressive streak for the Irish: Notre Dame has had a player drafted into the NFL in 80 straight years. The Shreveport, Louisiana native became the ninth Irish player in the last eight years to be chosen in the first round and third in the last two years, joining Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey, who were opening-round selections in 2018.

Tillery had a monster senior season with Notre Dame, anchoring one of the best defensive lines in the country and racking up 10 1/2 tackles for loss and eight sacks. He finished with 30 tackles in total and also forced three fumbles, while starting all 13 games for the Irish as they reached the College Football Playoff. He earned second-team All-American honors from the Associated Press for his efforts.'s Lance Zierlein was bullish on Tillery's chances to become a force in the NFL, gushing about his size and power. 

"If he takes coaching and learns to unleash his hands, he could become an unruly interior force and good three-down starter," Zierlein wrote.

Tillery enters a very good team situation with the Chargers, who went 12-4 in 2018 and won an AFC Wild Card game over the Baltimore Ravens before bowing to eventual champion New England in the divisional round. Los Angeles already has a couple of destructive defensive ends in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa and could have one of the best lines in the league with Tillery in the fold next season.

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