COSTA MESA — The Chargers selected defensive tackle Jerry Tillery with the No. 28 pick in the 2019 NFL draft Thursday night, filling a need at a thin position and a pick who could make life easier for the team’s standout pass rushers.
The former Notre Dame standout had shoulder surgery in March, but he’s reportedly expected to be ready for training camp in July.
The Chargers have excelled at rushing the quarterback with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but have had issues in the running game. The Chargers are hoping Tillery could improve that area.
The Chargers have had plenty of success in the draft since Tom Telesco took over as the general manager in 2013. They’ve selected at least one All-Pro or Pro Bowler in every draft during Telesco’s tenure, with the picks of wide receiver Keenan Allen (2013), cornerback Jason Verrett (2014), running back Melvin Gordon (2015), defensive end Joey Bosa (2016), cornerback Desmond King (2017) and safety Derwin James (2018).
Verrett, who’s now with the San Francisco 49ers, Gordon, Bosa and James were taken in the first-round.
James set the bar high for the 2019 first-round pick with a memorable rookie season that led to an All-Pro First Team and Pro Bowl selections. He was the Defensive Rookie of the Year runner-up in a tight race with Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard.
“I don’t know what the expectations will be in year one,” Telesco said Monday about what he expects from this year’s first-round selection. “It may not be to come in and play like Derwin James quite did, which was pretty amazing what he did. A player that we think can make a contribution right now, get better as we move forward and be a solid player for us.”
The Chargers had a surprise 2018 season with a 12-4 record for their first playoff appearance in five years. They defeated the Baltimore Ravens on the road in the wild-card round before falling to the New England Patriots in the divisional round.
This is the lowest the Chargers have picked in the first round since taking wide receiver Craig Davis at 30th overall in 2007.
More to come on this story.