What to expect from Cedric Tillman in 2023
The Cleveland Browns were looking to add depth and life to their wide receiver group in the 2023 NFL Draft. Cleveland’s selection of Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman 74th overall in the most recent draft is an attempt of accomplishing exactly that. So what should be expected out of Tillman as a rookie?
The unfortunate thing when it comes to Tillman is that the Browns already have three players (at least) ahead of him on the depth chart. There is absolutely no way Tillman is bumping Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Elijah Moore for playing time. Cleveland also has 2022 third round draft pick David Bell on the roster in addition to signing Marquise Goodwin to be their speed option. This is before acknowledging the presence of David Njoku and the rushing attack lead by Nick Chubb. Taking a quick look it is hard to see how Tillman makes a quantifiable impact in year one, but that is fine.
The selection of Tillman is about the long game and not immediate contributions. Looking at Tillman’s scouting report, it is eerily similar to that of Peoples-Jones and Bell coming out of college. Big receiver, lacking burst, and needs to improve on route running to create more separation. It is clear the decision makers in Berea have a type when it comes to drafting receivers.
So what exactly is the outlook here?
Again, this is about the long game. It is hard to envision a world, (barring injury of course), where Cedric Tillman is going to get a high volume of snaps. Drafting Tillman is clearly an attempt to find the successor at the wide receiver position, but this is a future proposition.
Peoples-Jones is set to become a free agent at the end of the year after this current contract expires. While he has provided needed production at the position, he is not the type of player good teams sign to extensions, which is why the Browns have drafted Bell and Tillman in consecutive drafts. Cooper is another player with his future in flux, as he has two years remaining on his deal with dead cap hits of just over $15 million this season and $11 million next before becoming a free agent. Considering that Cleveland needs financial flexibility down the road, it would not be a surprise if this was Cooper’s last year in a Browns uniform.
From a very broad perspective it seems that the Browns are looking to create an inexpensive pipeline for the future of the position. Cleveland should be able to get production from players who are not part of their future plans while hopefully putting players in place to take over when called upon. It would be nice to see Tillman burst out of the gate as an instant playmaker, it just does not seem all that likely with the current roster construction.