Cedric Tillman - WR - Tennessee
Cedric Tillman had a slow start to his career, but he broke out in 2021 as a redshirt junior. He faced injuries during his final season but showed flashes and added an impressive outing at the NFL Combine. He has a good chance to make a real difference in the NFL.
Height: 5′ 3″
Weight: 213 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.54s
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: 37″
Broad Jump: 10-8
Bench Press: DNP
*age is at the start of player’s rookie year
Tillman was a 3-star wide receiver recruit coming out of high school and spent his first three years at Tennessee as a backup receiver. He only played in 6 games over those three years, accruing 125 yards and 2 touchdowns; redshirting his true freshman season. Tillman got the starting nod in 2021 and fully delivered. He really broke out against Alabama in a losing effort with 7 catches, 152 yards, and a touchdown. He followed that performance up with a 200-yard receiving game against Georgia two weeks after the Alabama game. And finished the season with three 100-yard games with 6 touchdowns throughout those three games immediately following the Georgia matchup to close out the season. That season, Tillman was top 10 in the SEC in receptions, receiving yards, receiving yards per reception, receiving touchdowns, and total touchdowns.
2022 started off hot for Tillman, but he was injured during the Akron game; later coming out that it was an ankle injury that he had to have surgery on mid-season. He went on to miss 4 more games and ended the season on a fairly bright note with 68 yards against Georgia and 81 yards and 2 scores against South Carolina. Tillman decided to declare for the draft as a redshirt senior and put up a great combine performance, scoring a 9.5/10 in Mathbomb’s Relative Athletic Score.
Cedric Tillman is a big-bodied wide receiver (6’3” and 213 lbs) and he knows how to use his size. His route running relies heavily on utilizing his leverage to create separation and then boxing out defenders at the catch point. He has excellent ball skills paired with top-end body control and natural hands to highpoint the ball over defenders, consistently showcasing excellent contested catch abilities. After the catch, he continues to utilize his physicality, never shying away from contact and being willing to fight for the extra yards.
Tillman really knew how to turn on his game in big moments, showing some of his top performances against the best competition in Alabama and Georgia over the last two years of his college career. On top of all of that, he is a great blocker for his teammates, consistently giving 100% effort.
While Tillman can utilize leverage within his route running, he doesn’t bring a lot of nuance to his game. His breaks, cuts, and release are fine, but nothing that quite separates him from other receivers. Additionally, his yards after the catch game is limited to his physicality, rarely making defenders miss in open space or getting a lot of plus yardage without green grass in front of him.
Tillman is also a late breakout, not breaking out until his redshirt junior year at the age of 21. Not only did he not break out, but he was a rotation receiver that didn’t play in the majority of games throughout the first three years of his collegiate career. With the late breakout and being a redshirt senior at the time he is declaring for the NFL Draft, he will also be 23 years old at the start of his rookie season. He can still succeed as an older prospect, but the odds are not in his favor.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 4
Tillman is a big receiver that uses his size effectively in all facets of the game. While he was a late bloomer, he established himself as one of the best receivers in the SEC during the 2021 season. While he faced injuries in 2022, he was still an important facet of the Vols offense and showed he didn’t lose a step at the combine. An NFL team is going to take a shot on Tillman early on Day 3 of the NFL Draft and find themselves a great addition to their wide receiver room. However, Tillman could easily be a better asset to his NFL Team as needed depth versus a real difference maker that will make an impact on fantasy rosters.
The Panthers might be going all offense in this year’s draft to build a capable supporting cast around their presumed rookie quarterback with the first overall pick in this year’s draft. Later in the draft, Tillman can provide a great possession receiver that can clean up rookie mistakes and inaccuracies with his wingspan and go-up-and-get-it mentality. The New York Giants are in desperate need of life in their wide receiver core. They will most likely attack pass catchers early in the draft, but shots later in the draft couldn’t hurt. If Tillman were to land with the Giants, he’d have a legitimate shot at making the starting rotation throughout the season with how depleted the room looks as of right now.
Post Draft Analysis
Cleveland Browns- Round 3, Pick 11
The Cleveland Browns didn’t have any first or second-round picks in the NFL Draft, so Cedric Tillman was their first selection in this draft. It was an interesting one as wide receiver is a slight need, but they do have a lot of capable role players outside of Amari Cooper who is the clear WR1. They just brought in Elijah Moore who figures to be the starting slot receiver in this offense and Donovan Peoples-Jones had a good third season as he has consistently improved throughout his time in the NFL. Additionally, they have previous third-round selections from the last two years in David Bell and Anthony Schwartz respectively, and new signee Marquise Goodwin. They have a lot of depth, but not necessarily a clear WR2 behind Cooper. It’ll be interesting if Tillman can fight for a role in this offense and be a consistent contributor.
Cedric Tillman has an uphill road to getting on the field right away for Cleveland. Donovan Peoples-Jones’ contract is up after this season, so the Browns might be looking ahead to let Tillman develop for a year to eventually take over an outside receiver role. It’s unfortunate managers have to wait because Tillman is a good prospect with good film and good draft capital. But, he’s an older prospect that is waiting a year before getting meaningful reps without injury in front of him. There’s potential that Elijah Moore disappoints once again and Tillman gets more reps in three-wide sets, but it’s fairly uncertain.
In redraft, Tillman shouldn’t be drafted at this point. He’s a player to keep an eye on waivers if he does start taking a role in three-wide sets, but it’s a long shot. In dynasty leagues, he showed he has talent and is a solid stash on taxi squads for a year before he gets a real shot next year. In the middle of the third round in Superflex rookie drafts, there aren’t a lot of better options in that range. He’s a solid bet as a flier.