Worlds are colliding! You see the NFL draft is my sanctuary. When Avengers Endgame premieres next weekend and comes in contact with the NFL Draft on Thursday, my worlds collide. You know what happens then?!? BOOM! Seriously, how am I supposed to choose between one of the most anticipated movie releases of all time and one of the most exciting NFL events of the year. I can either go see Endgame opening night and miss my favorite annual tradition of watching the draft live; or I can bypass Endgame to view the draft while putting myself at risk for some epic spoilers on social media. Much like a child of divorce parents, there is no right choice.
Instead of going all Costanza here and flip out, I decided to embrace this collision. The draft rumor mill is in full effect now and a lot of experts and analysts are starting to predict which prospect lands with which team based on the news they are receiving. And as Chargers fans read these rumors and look at these mock drafts; there seems to be the same group of prospects associated with Los Angeles. So this got me thinking. Since the Chargers will be looking to add another piece to their Super Bowl puzzle next Thursday, why not compare these super hero-like men to those in Avengers Endgame...
***WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!?!?! NAH JK***
DEXTER LAWRENCE- THE HULK
The Hulk is the most intimidating super hero among the entire universe. He is massive in stature, and his strength rivals any other Marvel character. What most don’t know is the Hulk also possesses super human speed and agility to go a long with his impossible to match strength. His combination of strength and speed was on full display in the first Avengers movie when he was seen jumping from one building to another to smash alien troops one moment and then single handily stopping an enormous alien ship with a single punch later on. All that being said, the Hulk is not completely invulnerable. In Infinity Wars, the Hulk bombarded Thanos with a series of haymakers which stunned the Mad Titan. But the Hulk relied solely on his brute strength and after Thanos was able to absorb the attack, he was able to counter and ultimately defeat the Hulk, leading to the absence of his character for the entire movie.
Dex Smash! At 6’4”, 342 lbs, Dexter Lawrence is a mountain of a man. This hulking figure is also one of the strongest prospects (his 34 3/4” arms benched pressed 225 lbs 36 times) to come out this year. However, he is not just a big blob (see what I did there comic book fans) that is impossible to move. Lawrence use his immense power and quickness (ran a 5.05 forty at the combine) to create havoc in the backfield (had 18 TFLs and 10 sacks during his three year career at Clemson). You hear the cliche all the time, but Dexter Lawrence is the perfect example of “A man this size should not be able to move like this.” The problem with Lawrence is identical to his counterpart above. Dexter far to often relies on his size/elite strength to generate a bull rush to overpower people. When he doesn’t win with power, which is rare, he fails to display a counter to overcome the Thanoses on the offensive line.
JERRY TILLERY- THANOS
Speaking of the Mad Titan, Thanos is the psychotic supervillain in the Avengers movie. Or is he? Thanos is obsessed with carrying out genocide to wipe out 50% of the universes population so that the ones remaining can prosper. His theory consists of over population leads to sickness, poverty, and starvation which could all be cured by eliminating half of the universe without prejudice. So is he really a mad man or someone who is just misunderstood? Regardless of how you see Thanos, you cannot deny that he is the most powerful villain in all Marvel which was evident in Infinity War where he easily neutralized a souped up Avengers squad to retrieve the Mind Stone from Vision.
If Dexter Lawrence is the Hulk, then Jerry Tillery is Thanos. Tillery might not be as strong as Lawrence, but he is a more skilled, well rounded, defensive tackle that would not have to come off the field on third down thanks to his pass rushing skills (17.5 TFLs and 11.5 sacks the last two years). Like the appearance of Thanos, it took Tillery a little while to bust out onto the scene to let his presence be known. Tillery came to South Bend as an offensive lineman but was switched to defensive tackle when he was a freshman at Notre Dame. The first two years with the Fighting Irish was pretty much a learning experience for the former offensive lineman. It wasn’t until his junior year where Tillery flashed his potential in games. Perhaps the most impressive film I have seen this year was Tillery’s performance against Stanford where he racked up 4 sacks and a forced fumble. Tillery ran through Stanford’s offensive line like Thanos did with the Avengers in the end of Infinity War. Just as he was dominant against Stanford, the following week Tillery was M.I.A against Virgina Tech. His inconsistency is one of his major flags. There are times where Tillery is the best player on the field, and then there are other times where Tillery must be in possession of the Space stone and will completely disapear from a game.
The former Notre Dame defensive tackle is a polarizing player. It is evident Tillery plays with an intense mean streak. However, it is this competitiveness that has attributed to his label of being a dirty player. In his match up against rivals USC, Tillery was seen kicking and stepping on Trojans throughout the game. He also was suspended for the Fiesta Bowl for violating team rules. Just like Thanos was obsessed with balancing the universe, Tillery is obsessed with dominating the competition: “I don’t just want to make it to the NFL. I want to be the best at it. This is obviously a good defensive line class. I don’t want to be just among them. I want to be the best one out there, the best one in this league. I want to make a Pro Bowl, I want to win a Super Bowl, I want to wear the gold jacket some day. I want to be great!” After reading that I pondered a question; is Tillery really a bad guy? Or is he just misunderstood?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS- CAPTAIN AMERICA
Captain America is the unquestioned leader of the Avengers. He possesses above average strength, speed, agility, and durability and while he isn’t the strongest or fastest Avenger out there, he always finds a way to win thanks to his determination. Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, is also a master tactician, strategist, and field commander. When you pair up his determination with his high intelligence, it is easy to see why Captain America always put his team and himself in a position to carry out a successful mission.
The Clemson Tigers have had a formidable defense for the last couple of years which has helped them win numerous National Championships. The face of that defense has been none other than Christian Wilkins. Wilkins was a locker room leader among many talented and highly touted prospects. Yes Wilkins displays a good combination of speed and power, but he wasn’t the biggest or quickest on the defensive line. He was the prototypical example of a prospect that does everything well but nothing great. However, he earned the respect from his peers with his non stop motor on and off the field. On the field, Wilkins used his blend of size and speed a long with his non stop determination to collect over 40 TFLs and 16 sacks during his career at Clemson. Off the field, the former Tiger showed his superior intelligence when he earned his college degree in just two and a half years. Over the last couple of years, Wilkins’ effort and intelligence have been the main reasons why the Clemson Tigers have carried out the successful mission to win it all!
KALEB MCGARY- WAR MACHINE
War Machine is the loyal friend of Iron Man. During a falling out with long term friend Tony Stark, Lt. Colonel James Rupert Rhodes, aka Rhodey, took it upon himself to commandeer one of Stark’s battlesuits and make some additional enhancements to make it his own. And while some of the upgrades were cool and exciting; one can’t help to think that War Machine still plays second fiddle to the original Iron Man. Unfortunately for Rhodey, all the additional fire power and bells and whistles were not enough to avoid his fate in the epic battle scene of Civil War. War Machine was in pursuit of Captain America and needed some assistance from Vision to shake Falcon off his tail. Unfortuantely, Vision missed with his shot and War Machine was not fast enough to dodge the blast and was struck by Vision’s beam which lead to his free fall and ultimately his paralysis. War Machine bounced back from this tragedy and learned how to walk again so he can continue fighting side by side Iron Man in Endgame.
Kaleb McGary is not among the tier one offensive tackles in this years draft but still would be considered an upgrade over what the Chargers have at right tackle. The former Washington Huskie has plenty of fire power to his game as he has shown dominance in the running game. That being said, it is his pass sets that needs some refinement. Speed rushers give McGary trouble due to the fact that he lacks quickness in his pass pro sets. So like War Machine, Kaleb McGary is just not fast enough to avoid trouble. But also like War Machine, McGary has shown mental toughness to persevere through the adversity that he has experienced in life. Kaleb has overcome a heart arrthymia, a sick father with multiple sclerosis, and less than ideal living conditions when he and his family were forced to live in an RV after being forced off their farm. All that didn’t discourage McGary, instead, it has fueled him to continue protecting the most important thing in his world, his quarterback.