Scouting Report | Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame



High School

  • Evangel Christian Academy (Shreveport, Louisiana)
  • US Army All-American Bowl
  • 93 tackles as a senior
  • 4-star recruit 


  • Suspended for Fiesta Bowl in freshman season (violation of team rules)

“Tillery became a steady starter as a sophomore in 2016, but is perhaps best remembered that season for a Twitter tirade in which he indirectly lobbied for fired LSU coach Les Miles to replace (Brian) Kelly. There were also two temper tantrums during a 45-27 loss at USC in the regular-season finale – the first when he kicked a Trojan player in the head and the second when he stomped on another’s leg.”

-Associated Press: “Travels and tribulations have shaped Irish DL Jerry Tillery”

  • Graduated with an economics degree before 2018 season began. 

“Really proud of the way he has been as a teammate,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. “He comes back with a degree. He can be one of two ways. He can be all about himself, or he can be about his professional development and take coaching and develop to the level where he can help himself in the draft and still be part of a group. He did it the right way, and that’s hard to do.”

-Roy Lang, Shreveport Times

Injury History

  • Labrum/shoulder surgery in March.

 Production & Experience

  • Career
    • 50 career games with 40 starts, 135 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 21 hurries, four forced fumbles, two blocked kicks
  • 2015
    • 12 games/three starts (Georgia Tech, Navy, Stanford), 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack
  • 2016
    • 12 games/11 starts (did not start at USC), 37 tackles, three tackles for loss, five hurries
  • 2017
    • 13 games/13 starts, 56 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 11 hurries, one forced fumble
  • 2018
    • 13 games/13 starts, 30 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, five hurries, three forced fumbles, two blocked kicks


  • Year: 4-Senior
  • Height: 6’7″
  • Weight: 305 lbs

*Notre Dame official athletics site



  • Angular build with long arms and strapping frame that has room to be filled out. Carries 300-pound frame well.
  • Long arms provide for a well-executed extension to control his matchup if appropriate technique/leverage is performed.
  • Length caters well to the run game being able to fill gaps with length alone.
  • Consistent hot motor.
  • Quickness in feet having ability to chase ball carriers and jet past slower-reacting offensive linemen.
  • Stands in tough, not getting shoved off base too frequently maintaining gap responsibility.
  • Needing to show more consistency, but when timing of punch is executed correctly, he rarely loses advantage on the play.
  • Excellent interior pass rusher with a pocketful of moves (club + rip, push + pull, swim, spin, bull rush).
  • Closes well on ball carriers despite lower body limitations. Change of direction skills are average but has enough length and prowess to attack the ball carrier with finishing ability to consistently wrap up.
  • Adequate vision to manipulate blockers and then react to the flow of the play. Even if not getting a hand on the ball carrier, Tillery moves to the flow of the play gap, filling and penetrating running lanes.
  • Consistent initial burst with plus timing off the snap to strike the lineman first and gain advantage.
  • Alignment versatility: 0-tech (2017), 3-tech, 5-tech, 7-tech (seldom).


  • Though he has an athletic build, loses some trench battles due to lack of elite core strength. Can get overwhelmed by initial physical encounters and fails to find ways to overcome initial loss. 
  • Leg drive shows consistency but could gain more traction with stronger lower body. Shows capability of losing physical battles in the interior, especially if team uses him as a two-gapping lineman.
  • Average flexibility compared to other defensive linemen in the 2019 draft class. Shows lower-body stiffness when changing direction with a hitch when turning and chasing. 
  • Struggles with body leverage, shooting high off snaps and losing nearly all controlling ability on the play. 
  • Speed-to-power is lacking. Shows attractive build-up speed/acceleration but can hit a wall when contact is initiated. Ultimately goes back to questioning overall play strength. 
  • Motor is always running, but aggression level could be turned up a notch. A violent punch and churning out power would only accentuate his skillset more. 
  • Impressive interior pass rusher, but moves take some time. 


Somewhat of a rare breed when it comes to interior pass-rushing ability, Tillery fits the build of what NFL organizations are looking for in defensive tackles. Executing a plethora of moves, Tillery is a skilled pass rusher with 13.5 career sacks. He goes to work quickly with an attractive burst, hitting peak extension quickly and being able to carve up his matchup with pure strength if proper leverage is achieved. The Notre Dame standout plays with a hot motor, finding ways to manipulate offensive schemes, accentuating his vision and high football IQ. He does an excellent job diagnosing the play and finding ways to affect the outcome by penetrating gaps and opening up opportunities for exterior defenders. 

Tillery’s lack of elite-level athleticism should not be held against him in his overall evaluation. Though a slight hitch in changing directions, Tillery’s motor skills can occasionally serve as a trump card for his lack of lower body quickness. He gets from Point A to Point B quickly, showing average foot quickness to move well enough laterally to penetrate all levels of the field. He doesn’t display first-round flexibility, which could limit his potential versatility of playing on the outside, despite showing the length and pass-rushing nuance to do so. 

With a handful of past character issues, Tillery will have some answers to provide but seems to have calmed the storm entering NFL Draft season. Being suspended for a violation of team rules and showing a theme of on-field recklessness blemished his image early in his career. Since 2016, Tillery has been a clean product with little to no indication of questionable character. Other than his personality on the field, Tillery checks many boxes decision makers want from a physical standpoint. A dynamic interior pass rusher, an effective yet improving run defender, and enough athleticism and prowess to be coveted as a two-gapping tackle, Tillery is an intriguing prospect with first-round traits. 

Christian Page is a scout and writer for His scouting experience dates back to 2015. Christian has a background of radio along with collegiate athletic department experience and corporate marketing.