Last week, I took a look at Bengals’ first-round pick William Jackson III; this week I am setting my sights on second-round pick Tyler Boyd out of the University of Pittsburgh. I had hoped the team would have taken a receiver in the first round; but, the powers that be felt that there wasn’t a receiver on the board worthy of the pick (thanks to a couple of former Bengal coaches). Obviously, this wasn’t the case in the second round. Tyler Boyd was available, and the Bengals made the receiver their second-round selection.
The first aspect of Boyd’s game that stuck out to me was his versatility. The Panthers would line him up everywhere – as an outside receiver, as a slot receiver, as a running back, even as a quarterback in wildcat situations. In our Bengals podcast last week, I told Mike Goodpaster and Joe Kelly that Boyd is coming in as a replacement for Marvin Jones (who took a lucrative contract with the Lions). However, Joe made an excellent point that Jones is more like the similarly departed Mo Sanu. This versatility is an excellent illustration of this point. I do wonder how creative Ken Zampese will be with Boyd – because I’m not sure that he will be as creative as Hue Jackson. However, we will have to wait and see how creative Zampese is with the keys to the new offense.
The offense will be the subject of another article – let’s turn our focus back to Boyd. He is a large receiver, standing 6’1” and weighing roughly 200 pounds. Boyd had outstanding hands in college, dropping just 10 of 182 catchable passes thrown his direction in 2014 and 2015 (thanks ProFootballFocus for that stat). This skill will be invaluable, especially when lined up in the slot – where we could see Boyd sent on quick slants under deep routes from Green and Eifert. Quick outs and quick hitches are another route we could see quite a bit from Boyd, especially if his hands are as advertised.
What Boyd lacks in speed (he ran a 4.5 40 at the combine), he should be able to make up with his route-running ability. Touted as perhaps the best route runner in the draft, this ability should help him gain separation from defensive backs.This precision should be used on short-yardage routes where Boyd can sell the long route and break back for a five- to seven-yard reception. Combine the route running with the vice-grip hands, and Boyd should be a serious third-down threat.
That’s the upside, what’s Boyd’s downside? He has excellent hands and runs great routes, but he was not explosive in college. As dominant as he could be, he didn’t score a lot of touchdowns considering how often he touched the ball. One thing I noticed in film study was that he was rather easy to tackle, often times being taken down by one tackler. Such a tendency could limit his yards after the catch, which is not a very good characteristic for a receiver running underneath routes. Finally, Boyd did have a case of fumbilitis his senior year, mainly on punt returns. I don’t see him filling that role for the Bengals this year, especially with Adam Jones, Brandon Tate, and Mario Alford on the squad.
Boyd was a solid pick and should become a rather serviceable target for Dalton. Can he be explosive? We will have to wait to see.