Despite the return of A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd should continue being the Cincinnati Bengals’ number one wide receiver.
Heading into the 2020 season, one of the most hyped-up positions on the Bengals’ roster is the wide receiver unit. They have proven stars in A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. They have immense young talent in Tee Higgins, John Ross, and Auden Tate. As a whole, the receiver group may be the strongest position on the entire roster.
Green, one of the best receivers of the past decade, will be returning from injury after not playing a game since halfway through the 2018 season. Many expect that the Bengals’ legend will immediately reclaim his role as the team’s top receiver, but that may not be the case.
Slot receiver Boyd, who has led the Bengals in receiving in each of the past two seasons, could very well solidify himself as Cincinnati’s top receiver in the upcoming year.
One contributing factor towards this is that there is question as to whether Green will live up to his reputation. Having struggled with health for three of the past five seasons, there is no way to tell if Green has the ability to produce a fully healthy season anymore. Because of this, we could see Green in a limited capacity to avoid missing games. If not, we could be looking at missing the star receiver for a few games this season.
On the other hand, Boyd has been much more reliable than Green in his short career. Having only missed games here and there as opposed to missing long stretches of play, the fifth-year receiver is much more likely to play an entire season than his veteran counterpart.
In addition to health concerns, Green has not played football in a season and a half. There is no way of telling if he can return at the same level of play he was at when he went down with an injury in 2018. He is very likely to still be a great football player, but will he be the number one receiver he once was? We’ll have to wait and see.
Boyd is only getting better, however. After two mixed seasons to start his career, the former University of Pittsburgh receiver has posted two straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, leading the Bengals both times. He’s done this despite being seemingly the only healthy receiver of note on the team, leading defenses to focus on him. With a healthy group of receivers, Boyd should be able to find even more production due to defenses having to focus on more players as opposed to just him.
Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow will play a large part in Green and Boyd’s production as well. For Boyd, this is great news. Justin Jefferson, one of Burrow’s top targets at LSU, was a slot receiver like Boyd. In 2019, Jefferson had 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns, all due to Heisman winner Burrow’s connection with the newly drafted Vikings’ receiver. Burrow obviously has a knack for finding slot receivers, and Boyd can be the rookie quarterback’s new Justin Jefferson.
Tyler Boyd should prove himself as the Bengals’ top receiver over A.J. Green in 2020 because of Green’s health, a likely decline in play from the Cincinnati legend, and a connection with rookie Joe Burrow in the slot. While both receivers will likely have solid seasons along with the three other talented wideouts behind them, expect Boyd to be the belle of the ball.