The NFL Draft Scouting Combine gets underway this week, so let’s highlight Tennessee wide receiver, Cedric Tillman. The Las Vegas Raiders need capable hands opposite Davante Adams, and Tillman looks like the ideal fit.
Cedric Tillman 2023 NFL Draft Profile
Tillman was born in Las Vegas and attended Bishop Gorman High School, where he won multiple state championships as a star for the prestigious football program. He parlayed this success into a three-star rating and committed to the Tennessee Volunteers to further his playing career.
With the Vols, Tillman only caught eight passes in his first three years on campus. However, the 2021 season saw things change for everyone in Knoxville. The arrival of head coach Josh Heupel and quarterback Hendon Hooker allowed Tillman to blossom as a threat on the boundary.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 216 pounds, Tillman used his impressive frame to record 64 receptions, 1,081 yards, and 12 touchdowns in his first season as a starter. He ended 2021 on a tear, eclipsing the 100-yard mark in his final four games.
Unfortunately, Tillman’s momentum hit a snag with an early-season ankle injury in 2022. He returned to the lineup and played six total games on the year, putting together a respectable line of 37 receptions, 417 yards, and three touchdowns.
Cedric Tillman Headed to NFL Draft Scouting Combine
Tillman is now headed to Indianapolis, determined to prove himself among his peers. The Tennessee wideout gets labeled as a ‘jump-ball specialist’, but this undersells just how talented Tillman is.
The senior receiver boasts the ideal frame for a possession receiver in the NFL. He excels in contested catch situations and snatches the ball out of the air rather than letting it travel to his body. The ball skills and overall concentration are as good as any in the 2023 NFL Draft.
As a route runner, Tillman shows the potential to add more diversity to the tree. He was not tasked with advanced routes in the Tennessee offense, but he can still add them to his repertoire with proper NFL coaching. In short-yardage situations, the Vols superstar is a handful to cover.
As an athlete, Tillman is freakier than it might appear. He should run a 4.4 40-yard dash and will jump out of the gym when he steps up to the vertical drill. Tillman is also incredibly strong and uses this to shrug off smaller cornerbacks.
Potential Fit with the Raiders
The Raiders employ arguably the best wide receiver in the league in Davante Adams and deploy one of the better slot receivers in Hunter Renfrow. Darren Waller sits atop the tight end depth chart, assuming he remains with the Silver & Black in 2023. One area that is truly lacking is WR2.
Tillman is capable of logging starting reps as a rookie. He is physical, a chain-mover, and a legitimate red-zone threat from day one. The Tennessee pass catcher would give Josh McDaniels a fourth high-upside player in the receiving corps, an inviting idea for whoever the team tabs as its next starting quarterback.
Pre-Scouting Combine, Tillman typically goes in round three of mock drafts. He is No. 80 overall on the Consensus Big Board (via MDDB). After a breakout performance in Indianapolis, I fully expect Tillman to solidify this status and likely boost himself into the second round.
The Raiders sit at No. 39 in round two and No. 71 in round three. Tillman’s performance at the Combine will determine which pick is needed to secure his rights. For my money, Tillman will come off the board closer to 39 than 71.
Therefore, the Raiders will need to use an early second-rounder on Tillman. This price is a fair one and is a worthwhile selection, depending on how free agency goes beforehand.
It is no secret that the defense needs reinforcements, but drafting Cedric Tillman and re-signing Josh Jacobs would give Vegas one of the best supporting casts in the NFL. A veteran like Jimmy Garoppolo or a rookie like C.J. Stroud can win football games in 2023 within a stacked offense. Tillman is an intriguing target for the Raiders on day two.
*Top Photo: Mark Alberti/Icon Sports Wire via Getty Images
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