Cleveland Browns Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee – Round 3
The current regime in Cleveland has everything riding on Deshaun Watson improving in his second year with the team, and in order to help Watson return to his old form, the organization had to improve its wide receiver talent. Prior to the 2023 NFL Draft, the Browns traded for wideout Elijah Moore, and they didn’t stop there using, their first draft pick to select Tillman. The big-bodied receiver provides the Browns with another outside target to go across from Amari Cooper while Moore can man the slot.

Tillman is a big receiver who presents a size mismatch for the NFL. He has good hands and is dangerous to make leaping grabs over defensive backs. With his height and weight, Tillman is able to box out defensive backs to make catches even when he is covered. Tillman shows nice technique, including late hands to limit defensive backs ability to break up passes. In the NFL, Tillman would be a good weapon in the red zone with his ability to make catches over defenders.

Once Tillman has the ball in his hands, he has some run-after-the-catch skills, using his powerful frame and almost turning into a running back to pick up yards in the open field. He uses his size to break tackles and can be tough for defensive backs to get on the ground.

Tillman has some limitations for the NFL because he lacks twitch, is not explosive, and has some stiffness. As a result, I think he could end up being a solid starter and No. 2 receiver who may not ever turn into a true No. 1 or boom pick.

2022: Martin Emerson, CB
2021: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB
2020: Jordan Elliott, DT
2019: Mack Wilson, LB
2018: Denzel Ward, CB
2017: David Njoku, TE
2016: Carl Nassib, DE
2015: Danny Shelton, DT
2014: Justin Gilbert, CB
2013: Leon McFadden, CB

Most Likely To Bust

The Browns ended up not selecting a player in the first two rounds of the draft due to the Deshaun Watson and Elijah Moore trades. Hence, I do not see a player with serious bust potential for Cleveland. Overall, I think the team had a very good draft in the mid-rounds to built up depth on its roster and add some speciality players who could help the franchise in certain roles.

2022: David Bell, WR
2021: Anthony Schwartz, WR
2020: Grant Delpit, S
2019: Sione Takitaki, LB
2018: Antonio Callaway, WR
2017: Jabrill Peppers, S
2016: Corey Coleman, WR
2015: Xavier Cooper, DT
2014: Christian Kirksey, LB
2013: Barkevious Mingo, LB

Potential Boom Pick

The Browns didn’t pick until Round 3 because of what they gave up in the Deshaun Watson and Elijah Moore trades. Similar to lacking a true bust candidate, I do not see a player with serious boom potential for Cleveland. It would not surprise me if Cedric Tillman and Siaki Ika turn to solid pros.

2022: None
2021: Greg Newsome, CB
2020: Jedrick Wills, OT
2019: Greedy Williams, CB
2018: Nick Chubb, RB
2017: Myles Garrett, DE
2016: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE
2015: Cam Erving, C
2014: Johnny Manziel, QB
2013: Jamoris Slaughter, S

Future Depth Player

Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor – Round 3
Ika was a nice value for the Browns in the third round. While he does not offer much pass-rush ability, Ika is a beast against the run with size, power, and physicality at the point of attack. In the sub package, Ika does not have a role, so he probably will get pulled from the game. Teams play the sub package roughly 70 percent of their snaps, and sometimes they play entire games in the sub. Thus, Ika will not have the playing time of a true starter. However, I think he will be a valuable run stuffer for Cleveland and a good rotational player in the base defense.

2022: Perrion Winfrey, DT
2021: Richard LeCounte, S
2020: Jacob Phillips, LB
2019: Sheldrick Redwine, S
2018: Chad Thomas, DE
2017: Larry Ogunjobi, DT
2016: Cody Kessler, QB
2015: Duke Johnson, RB
2014: Pierre Desir, CB
2013: Garrett Gilkey, OT

Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

74. Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee – A Grade
I was really hoping for an offensive lineman, but another weapon for Deshaun Watson makes a ton of sense – especially this one. Cedric Tillman should have been chosen 20 or so selections earlier than this. Tillman is a huge receiver who will be a great weapon for Watson in the end zone.

98. Siaki Ika, NT, Baylor – A- Grade
Siaki Ika is someone I had in the first round long ago, but he fell because of injury concerns. He’s also a run-stuffer, so he made sense for the second frame anyway. Still, the Browns desperately needed someone to help stop the run, which was a big problem for them last year.

111. Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State – A+ Grade
The Colts brought in plenty of offensive linemen for top-30 visits, as they wanted depth and a successor for Jack Conklin. Dawand Jones is a massive offensive lineman who will blast open huge running lanes for Nick Chubb. He could have gone in the second round, so I love this value.

126. Isaiah McGuire, DE, Missouri – C+ Grade
The Browns needed to continue to bolster their defensive line, which was very weak last year outside of Myles Garrett. Isaiah McGuire is a powerful defensive lineman who could do well in Cleveland’s rotation. I had him going later though.

140. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA – A- Grade
With Jacoby Brissett gone, the Browns needed to develop a young quarterback just in case Deshaun Watson gets more massages. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a very mobile quarterback who provides some value in the fifth round.

142. Cam Mitchell, CB/S, Northwestern – A Grade
I had Cam Mitchell going in the third round, so I love this value. Cam Mitchell is a physical, versatile defensive back who can play all over the secondary. He’ll be needed versus the high-powered offenses in the AFC.

190. Luke Wypler, C, Ohio State – A+ Grade
What a steal! Luke Wypler should have been drafted on Day 2. The Browns showed interest in a bunch of centers during the pre-draft process, and I can’t imagine that they thought they’d land someone like Wypler in the sixth round.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: A. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

Cleveland Browns Season Preview

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 9

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12