Considered one of the best Bengals draft picks in recent memory, Tyler Boyd still has some work to do. He has the potential to be one of the next great players in Cincinnati’s offense.
Heading into the 2016 season, with the departure Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, it was clear that the Bengals needed to draft a wide receiver. But, when three of the consensus top 4 wideouts all went in quick succession before Cincinnati’s first-round pick, the team had a tough decision to make. Reach for a receiver now, or risk an even worse value in a later round? The Bengals waited and were rewarded for their patience with the addition of Tyler Boyd.
Consistently graded as an early second-round pick, the Bengals found a great value when Boyd fell to them at 55 overall. Fulfilling the Bengals major need at receiver and going roughly twenty spots later in the draft than anticipated, the situation was really the best the Bengals could have hoped for.
Boyd looked kind of like the next coming of Mohamed Sanu in Cincinnati, specializing in gadget plays and even throwing some passes in college. Coming out of Pittsburgh, Boyd was the strong confident type—the receiver mold that has dominated Cincinnati in the post-‘Ochocinco’ era. Boyd was praised for his good hands and route running, but there were questions about his speed and strength. His combine grade was only a 5.9.
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With the aforementioned Sanu and Jones out the door in free agency, Boyd had big shoes to fill in 2016. The offseason signing of Brandon LaFell helped shoulder some of the load. But, veterans like him can only carry an offense so far, especially with a Pro-Bowl tight end out of the picture for longer than expected. Boyd’s responsibilities got even bigger with the injury to AJ Green toward the end of the season, playing the final six games without his All-Pro counterpart.
But Boyd handled his immense duties well. Per Pro Football Reference, he finished the year with just over 600 yards. He snagged a reception in every game and proved he was someone Andy Dalton could count on week in and week out. Fans will remember the Bengals’ Week 13 win over the Browns as the game he finally took the spotlight. He went off for six catches and added a 40-yard rush.
The Year In Review
On a Bengals team riddled with disappointment, Boyd was one among few bright spots. He ended the season with 603 yards on 54 catches, both good for fourth-best among rookies. Additionally, he finished inside the top five for rookies in first downs, 20+ yard catches, and yards per game. He did well in every major statistical category, only consistently topped by Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints.
With the absence of AJ Green toward the end the season, Boyd had two options. He could crumble away under the pressure or rise to the occasion. He chose the latter and proved himself to be among Cincinnati’s most consistent players on the offensive side. In an offense full of unexpected dysfunction, rookie Tyler Boyd was definitively not part of the problem.