The University of Tennessee has put several receivers in the NFL that have found success. Marquez Calloway, Josh Palmer, Velus Jones Jr. have all made their way to Sundays. Next up? The first Volunteer wide out to cross the 1,000 yard mark in a season since Justin Hunter did it in 2012, 5th year senior Cedric Tillman. Let’s dive into the initial Cedric Tillman scouting report.
Tillman is a big, physical football player. Listed at 6’3 215 pounds according to the official Volunteer website, Tillman became returning QB1 Hendon Hooker’s favorite target a season ago. He was able to amass 64 receptions for 1081 yards and 12 touchdowns in his fourth season. He had only eight receptions in the prior three seasons combined.
I broke down four games (Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, Alabama) to get a sense of Cedric Tillman as a 2023 NFL draft prospect.
Best game watched: Missouri
Worst game watched: Florida
Cedric Tillman at a Glance
The scouting report on Cedric Tillman starts, undoubtedly, with his physicality. He is not a physical wide receiver, he is a physical football player. Tennessee routinely moves him across formations. He excels on the boundary, in the slot, is sent through the backfield in motion, and takes snap as an H-Back. Tillman is as versatile a receiver as they come, and is the definition of scheme-friendly.
Tillman is a threat to all levels of the field. He lacks fear when attacking the middle of the field and has strong enough hands to handle targets in traffic. His size and strength, combined with his speed, make him dangerous on screens and rub routes as well as attacking deep. He is a willing and able blocker, as evidenced by his snaps in line and at H-Back.
Returning for a fifth season made perfect sense for Tillman. He has one year of production to his name, and the continuity on Rocky Top bodes well for success this fall. There’s several areas Tillman must improve on in order to be an impact player in the National Football League, however.
Cedric Tillman Scouting Report
- Size, speed, and scheme versatility make him a fit in virtually any offense
- Excellent hands, diamonds away from the body, and rarely drops passes
- Excellent ability to high point and control his body along the boundary
- Capable with the ball in hand, strong YAC player
- Plus blocker in the running game
- 20 catches for 20+ yards, 9 for 40+
- Lacks elite top-end speed
- Incomplete route tree
- Inefficient cuts in and out breaks costs speed and separation
- Slow feet when setting up releases against press
- Several instances of taking plays off
- One year of production
Cedric Tillman is a talented receiver prospect with a penchant for making big plays. He is adept at working back to the pass and extending routes to help his quarterback. His size and strong hands make him a valuable weapon. Tillman’s play strength and ability to generate YAC are exciting for a prospect his size and play style.
NFL scouts will assuredly be watching to see if Tillman carries his momentum over from a breakout 2021 season, as the Volunteer offense is poised to rely heavily on him once again. Improvement as a route runner and quicker feet are imperative if Tillman is to take a step forward and separate himself from the pack at the position.
2022 gives Cedric Tillman a chance to showcase all aspects of his game. He should continue to excel when given big play opportunities, and his versatility will continue to be showcased.
Current Evaluation and Projection
Cedric Tillman absolutely would have been drafted had he declared for the 2022 NFL draft following a stellar season. The depth of the class and his rough route running likely would have pushed him to the early day three range. His top-end speed is a question mark teams will want answered as well, in addition to seeing how he fares in agility drills.
I anticipate Tillman having an even more productive season this fall. The chemistry he has with Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker is real, and he has experience being a focal point of an offense to rely on. Route running will likely still leave something to be desired. I expect to value Tillman as a mid-to-early day two prospect some months from now, but time will tell.
Identifying potential fits for Cedric Tillman in the NFL is difficult, as he can work inside any offense in the league. I would keep an eye on any organization with a young quarterback who may look to add a sure handed, willing blocker with deep play ability. Teams like the Ravens, Eagles, Jaguars, Bears, and Chiefs come to mind.