Browns WR room looks over-crowded after drafting Cedric Tillman

NFL Combine
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Drafting Cedric Tillman, a wide receiver from The University of Tennessee, no doubt made Dee and Jimmy Haslam happy since it is their Alma Mater; however, it seems like a tactically poor decision since there are already six wide receivers that the Browns are motivated to keep on the 53-player roster.

Hence, we can only assume that the scouting reports on Tillman were so glowing that the Browns felt that they had to draft him based on the "best-athlete-available" theory because they weren't really looking for a wide receiver in the 2023 draft after trading for Elijah Moore and signing Marquise Goodwin prior to the draft.

Tillman had only one good season, in 2021, when he had 1,081 receiving yards and a 16.9 yards per reception average. Okay cool. Last year, he had the dreaded high ankle sprain injury and played some games with the injury at less than 100 percent. Nevertheless, Cleveland evidently feels that he will make it back 100 percent, that the risk is acceptable, and that he's not going to be chronically injury-prone.

The Browns have major investments in Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Marquise Goodwin, Jakeem "Mighty Mouse" Grant, Elijah Moore, and David Bell. By adding top draft pick Tillman, selected in the third round, 74th overall by the Browns, the population in the wide receiver room is raised to seven.

Five is not a bad number. Six implies the team may not carry that third quarterback or extra tight end for coach Kevin Stefanski's tight-end-heavy offense. Maybe they can go short on running backs or something to compensate, but it is not automatic to carry six wideouts.

The Browns may have to try to trade someone or swallow a financial loss by cutting a player they have made a financial commitment to. Mighty Mouse Grant made the Pro Bowl as a special teams player in 2021 and had 214 yards as an extra wide receiver that year.

However, he's 30 years old and trying to come back from an Achilles injury. Maybe he's not a lock to make the team. Also, amateur GMs are having a second look at recently-acquired Marquise Goodwin, who is 32 years old, has a career catch percentage of only 52.1 percent, and has $400 K of guaranteed money.

Perhaps his hold on a roster spot is not quite as strong as it might seem. It would be tacky to cut a free agent just after signing him, but Cleveland is the place where anything can happen, and it usually does.

Nevertheless, carrying so many wide receivers makes it likely that the Browns will hand out pink slips to erstwhile receiving candidates such as Isaiah Weston, a kid who is 6-foot-4, 214 pounds, ran a 4.42 40-yard dash and caught everything in sight last summer but went out with an injury at the end of summer camp.

He might clear waivers, and if so, the Browns would like to sign him to the practice squad. Ditto for track star Anthony Schwartz who clearly did not know how to play football when he was drafted. He's still learning and his play has still not reached an acceptable level, though his career average on the jet sweep is an intriguing 9.6 yards per carry.

However, Cleveland may be ready to give up on him even though he will not turn 23 until the end of camp. The Browns are not known for their patience with young players. Demetric Felton, listed as a running back, has better tools for slot receiver and can catch footballs. Mike Harley, Jr., Jaelon Darden, and Marquez Stevenson are also on the roster.

The selection of Tillman puts the reputation of the Browns scouting department on the line because it was not really a position of great need going into the draft. Very likely they will attempt to trade someone in order to find roster space for Tillman. If they can't make a trade, the Browns will have to cut one or two players with guaranteed money. We shall see if their faith in him is justified.

Next. Why Browns picking Tilman was a mistake. dark