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What did '03 draft guides say about Tillman?
March 5th, 2013

Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation, prolanthropySelected by the Bears in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft, Charles Tillman earned a starting job as a rookie and never looked back, becoming arguably the best cornerback in franchise history.

But as Tillman prepared to enter the draft a decade ago out of Louisiana Lafayette, what exactly did the experts think of him? We dusted off a couple of old 2003 draft previews to find out.

In listing his positives, Pro Football Weekly described Tillman as a “big, durable corner with very good size, adequate speed, good hands and range” who was “better when playing in a trail position” and could “get bigger as his frame allows for 10 or 15 more pounds without losing speed.” It also noted that he was a “good tackler who plays the run well” and a “leader with good character.”

PFW summarized Tillman’s NFL prospects by labeling him as an “experienced, versatile corner who could fit in a cover-two scheme and has a lot of upside.”

Tillman was a four-year starter at Louisiana Lafayette. As a true freshman in 1999, he started five of the last seven games at cornerback, recording 82 tackles and six pass breakups.

Tillman was named his team’s defensive MVP in 2000 after registering 64 tackles, six interceptions and nine pass breakups. After undergoing shoulder surgery and missing spring practice in 2001, he earned All-Sun Belt honors as a junior with 38 tackles, four picks and eight pass breakups.

Tillman demonstrated his versatility and ball skills as a senior in 2002 when he moved to free safety and compiled 100 tackles, two interceptions, eight pass breakups, two tackles-for-loss, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks.

In its pre-draft coverage, Sports Illustrated described Tillman as a “solid secondary prospect best on the inside” who was “light on his feet, moves well laterally” and was “quick reading or anticipating the action.” It also noted that he was “disciplined, plays assignment football and takes good angles to the ball carrier.”

Pro Football Weekly ranked Tillman as the 16th best cornerback in the draft behind Terence Newman, Marcus Trufant, Andre Woolfork, Dennis Weathersby, Eugene Wilson, Sammy Davis, Rashean Mathis, Kevin Garrett, Drayton Florence, DeJuan Groce, Shane Walton, Ricky Manning Jr., Donald Strickland, Roderick Babers and Jason Goss.

Tillman failed to earn a spot on PFW’s list of the top 160 prospects in the draft regardless of position, a group that included 12 future Bears teammates, none of whom were ever voted to the Pro Bowl with the team: Jimmy Kennedy (No. 4), Michael Haynes (19), Rex Grossman (27), Brandon Lloyd (70), Ian Scott (85), Justin Gage (97), Anthony Adams (100), Todd Johnson (109), Cato June (131), Hunter Hillenmeyer (149), Pisa Tinoisamoa (153), and Manning Jr. (155).

PFW gave Tillman a 5.24 grade, which equated to a prospect who likely would be drafted in the sixth round and have a better-than-average chance to make an NFL roster. In fairness to PFW, Tillman’s stock rose after he was clocked at 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Selected by the Bears with the 35th overall pick, Tillman was ultimately the sixth cornerback chosen behind Newman (fifth to the Cowboys), Trufant (11th to the Seahawks), Woolfolk (28th to the Titans), Davis (30th to the Chargers) and Nnamdi Asomugha (31st to the Raiders).