Chargers top 5 breakout season players in 2021: DT Jerry Tillery

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Every season, there are players who break out onto the scene who may not have been dominant the season before, whether they had limited snaps, dealt with an injury or just improved as a player in the offseason.

This is the first story in a five-part series counting down the top Chargers players who I believe are most likely to have a breakout season in 2021.

Part 1: WR Tyron Johnson

Jerry Tillery, Los Angeles first-round pick of the 2019 NFL draft, was selected with the hopes of giving the interior part of the defensive line a boost in the pass rushing department.

Tillery did not do much upon arriving, with the exception of late in the season where he finally started to show some flashes.

He missed all of the spring practices since he spent the majority of it rehabbing his torn labrum that he suffered during his senior season at Notre Dame.

This past season, Tillery made some strides. His ascend came when he was experimented as a defensive end when Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram dealt with injuries.

Tillery saw his tackles (17 to 30), sacks (two to three), quarterback hits (three to 14), pressures (nine to 22) and forced fumbles (zero to two) all uptick in his sophomore season.

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Looking ahead to Year 3, Tillery is in a prime position to take a step even further, as he will be in a scheme that favors his skillset and play for Brandon Staley, the defensive guru that has a history of elevating front-seven players.

Tillery’s versatility will serve him well and his traits profile more optimally to a 3-4 defense, given his length, strength and power.

“I am a really big fan of Jerry Tillery’s game,” Staley said. “I think this guy is a versatile inside player….This guy’s got real size, speed.

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