The need for talent at wide receiver has been a recurring theme for the Green Bay Packers over the past decade. Even with the promising rookies drafted in 2022, Brian Gutekunst will still be looking to add at least one more dynamic pass catcher in the draft. With the Packers also more than likely to part ways with Allen Lazard this offseason, Cedric Tillman out of the University of Tennessee might be a perfect plug-and-play replacement.
Lazard earned a pay raise heading into the 2022 season, signing a one-year, $3.9 million deal with Green Bay, but all signs are pointing towards him looking for greener pastures this upcoming season. Lazard still likely has plenty of potentially productive years ahead of him — he’s only 27 years old. But given the current cap situation and the reports that he could earn upwards of $10 million per season, it doesn’t feel likely that he’ll be a Lambeau Field regular next season. As encouraging as the rookie seasons for Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs were, if Lazard were indeed to leave, there would be room within the Packers’ offense for a big, physical wide receiver.
Enter Cedric Tillman, who wouldn’t be quite the size of the 6’5” Lazard, but still is no slouch at 6’3”, 215 lbs. The Draft Network describes as a “big-bodied receiver” with “strong and confident” hands, attributes that would help diversify the current skill set of the wide receiver group. Watson and Doubs have shown a willingness to go over the middle, but they often do their best work outside of the numbers.
Whether it’s Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love throwing to Tillman, one of the things that either quarterback would admire is his ability to catch in traffic, paired with those strong hands. The Packers led the NFL last season in drops, and Rodgers has consistently been among the league-leaders in yards lost due to drops, with Lazard and Doubs checking in as some of the most routine offenders. Tillman was sure-handed in college, outpacing some of the other top names in this year’s draft.
When the Packers offense has been at its peak recently, it’s been largely due to a complementary skill set within the wide receiver room. Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and Randall Cobb were all sensational players in their primes, and yet all of them filled different roles within the Green Bay offense. A team’s wide receiver room can often be compared to a basketball lineup, and the Packers already have Watson and Doubs out on the wings, scoring from the perimeter. Matt LaFleur and Gutekunst should be looking for some big bodies who can produce and do the dirty work where it’s needed, which is exactly what Tillman can provide.
Tillman’s best season came as a junior in 2021. He balled out against Alabama and Georgia, recording 17 catches for 352 yards and two TDs. However, an ankle injury derailed his senior season in 2022, which may cause him to tumble in the draft. That slide could present sensational value for Gutekunst, though. Most of the draft analysts currently have a third-round grade on Tillman. Being able to pick up an immediate impact player like him with the 78th-overall pick would be a win for Green Bay. If the Packers could acquire a few more picks by trading a certain quarterback and were left with multiple second-rounders, I’d have no qualms with selecting Tillman in one of those slots.
The legacy of second-round wideouts in Green Bay is strong (Jennings, Nelson, Cobb, Watson, and Davante Adams). However, the third-round track record has been underwhelming lately. If the Packers have an opportunity to bring in Tillman at value, it shouldn’t be a chance they pass up.