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2023 NFL Draft Watch: WR Cedric Tillman

Fun fact: Cedric’s father, also named Cedric Tillman, was a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos from 1992-1994.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

After Thursday night’s performance, I’m no longer pretending the offense doesn’t need a lot of help — whether that comes down to the coaching, or player competence, or both of those elements. We have a bunch of talented players who...aren’t making things happen?

I’m not going to go on another rant about that, but I will rant about losing an ungodly amount of players to injury. We can’t count on anyone being active for the rest of the season and, if next year is at all similar, we’re going to see more and more instances where backups will take the field.

It makes me tired to think about naming all the injuries Denver has right now. We won’t see key eligible pass receivers like RB Javonte Williams or WR Tim Patrick until next season. You can find an updated list of the Broncos’ injuries on ESPN.

DISCLAIMER: My previous statement is not to shame the players for being injured. It’s simply to acknowledge that any of them could drop to IR at any given moment, based on what’s happened so far.

And, with all of that out of the way...


2023 NFL Draft Watch: Tennessee WR Cedric Tillman

This week we’re looking at Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman, projected to be a fourth-rounder OR first-rounder? Cue my “we could trade up and get better draft picks, blah blah blah” speech, but right now our prospects are further down the line. If he falls somewhere in the third round, we might have a chance at him.


Background

Cedric Tillman (6’3”/215lbs, 4.56 40) started as a Tennessee Volunteer in 2018, recording only one reception in one game for -3 yards.

He didn’t have much action in the next few years, either, with four receptions for 60 yards and one TD in three games (2019), and three receptions for 67 yards and one TD in two games (2020), respectively.

Fast forward to 2021. Cedric managed 64 receptions for 1,081 yards, scoring a total of 12 TDs in 12 games. Now that’s what you call “growth.”

The draft projections on this guy are confusing. Like I said earlier, I’ve seen guestimates that he’ll go anywhere between the first and fourth rounds, which is a huge discrepancy. What strikes me about him is the big plays that he makes in critical moments. In 2021 Tillman was the first in almost a decade to punch in 1,000 receiving yards.

Most notably from last season, the WR made ten receptions for 200 yards against Georgia, and seven catches for 152 receiving yards (and a 70-yard TD) vs Alabama.

Tillman is currently injured with a high ankle sprain, but he is expected to be back in business for Tennessee’s October 15th game vs Alabama.


The Good & The Bad

A developed Tillman is the kind of receiver you want if you’re throwing a Hail Mary. He chases the deep passes and he’ll throw his whole body after them. His size and strength allow him to counter defenders with awareness and self-assurance, and his speed is decent especially for his imposing frame.

Last year, QB Hendon Hooker transferred to Tennessee from Virginia Tech, and the two players have a great deal of chemistry on the field. Knox News pointed out that they’re the highest scoring quarterback-receiver duo since Peyton Manning and Marcus Nash were Volunteers.

The WR is a bit of a late bloomer, as evidence in his stats. He didn’t really start producing (or playing much) until last year. Even then, Tillman’s running routes have been explosive but not necessarily complex in terms of the technique.


Conclusion

Ultimately, Cedric Tillman is going to need fine-tuning before he lands a starting position, but what college receiver isn’t going to need some of that when making their transition to pro ball? He could be a good option for beefing up our WR room next year, if he’s still available when our turn comes (and if he continues to produce like he did last year).