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Cedric Tillman 'fired up' to work with Deshaun Watson

Tillman called Watson “one of the best quarterbacks in the league” and is ready to get to work with the Browns’ offense


The Browns have given QB Deshaun Watson no shortage of pass-catching weapons in 2023.

Rookie WR Cedric Tillman became the newest of the bunch Friday in Round 3 of the NFL Draft, and he'll be bringing plenty of size with him to Cleveland. At 6-foot-3, Tillman will provide Watson a huge catch radius to throw to, and he proved across five seasons at Tennessee that he knows how to use it to produce big plays.

With a QB as talented as Watson, Tillman sees no shortage of success in his new NFL home.

"I'm fired up," Tillman said. "You know Deshaun Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and I'm really looking forward to getting to know all my teammates and new brothers, new coaches and stuff, so I'm excited."

Check out photos of Browns 2023 third round pick Cedric Tillman.

Tillman's big year came in 2021 when he totaled 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns and became the first Tennessee receiver to top 1,000 yards in a season since Justin Hunter in 2012. Tillman's playing time in 2022 was limited to just six games due to an ankle injury, but he was still productive when he was healthy and recorded 417 yards and three touchdowns.

The Browns made Tillman their first pick of their 2023 draft class after entering draft weekend with no picks in the first two rounds. Executive VP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry, however, said the Browns still felt they had several talented options available by the time their first pick finally arrived and were pleased to see Tillman still up for grabs.

"There were a number of players that we liked at 74 across a number of different divisions," Berry said. "I'll be honest, we felt like the board fell favorably. There are a number of prospects that were in play for that pick that we would have been very excited to have. We just felt that Cedric was the right fit for us. Very clean profile, adds an element to the receiver room that we have just at his excellent size. We were really excited."

Tillman will join a Browns receiver room that already contained several reliable players at the top of the depth chart. The group is led by Amari Cooper and now also includes 2021 second-round pick Elijah Moore and 10th-year veteran Marquise Goodwin. Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Bell are also still among the group of wideouts.

The Browns, though, felt there should be no shortage of receiver talent this year, and that approach should push them closer toward helping Watson return to the same Pro Bowl form he consistently carried early in his career.

"I don't know if there is such thing (as having too many receivers), to be honest with you," Assistant GM Catherine Raîche said. "We are always looking for competition in the room. We're looking to put the best players on the field and give as many weapons as we can to our quarterback."

Expect Tillman to be used at all levels of the field with the Browns. He can catch short passes, but also be of service in the middle of the field and even be used as a deep-ball threat.

That's the type of versatility a 6-foot-3 receiver who runs a 4.5 40-yard dash can provide.

"He's run a ton of comeback routes in his career," Raîche said. "He can create separation on the intermediate level, as well. We just feel that he's going to be able to help in many ways."

Tillman knows he's entering a deep receiver room and will still have to compete for every rep he can get come training camp.

But with a top-tier quarterback throwing to them, it's an ideal scenario for a rookie receiver to step into.

"I'm excited," he said. "I know all those receivers, those are all good receivers. I'm really excited to join them and be a part of the Cleveland Browns receiving group."

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