PFF asks if Bengals WR Tyler Boyd best NFL slot receiver
Tyler Boyd has taken the mantle from A.J. Green as the Bengals best wide receiver. Boyd has led Cincinnati in receiving and receiving yards in each of the last three seasons and had the most touchdown receptions for the Bengals in 2018 and 2019. Pro Football Focus asked if Boyd is the best slot receiver in the NFL.
In a tweet earlier this week, PFF asked if Boyd, CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys, Juju Smith-Shuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Los Angeles Rams Cooper Kupp is the best slot receiver in the NFL. In five NFL seasons, Boyd has 321 receptions for 3,743 yards, an 11.7 yards per reception average and 19 TDs.
Smith-Shuster entered the NFL a year after Boyd. In four seasons the Steelers top receiver has 308 receptions for 3,726 yards a 12.1-yard average and 26 TDs. Kupp has also played four NFL seasons and has 288 receptions for 3,570 yards, averages 12.4 YPR and has 24 TDs. Lamb was a rookie in 2020.
Playing in every game and starting 14, Lamb had 74 receptions for 935 yards, 12.6 YPR and five TDs. Declaring which one of the four is the best slot receiver in the NFL is subjective. A lot of factors go into that determination. Boyd is clearly the top receiver on the Bengals, Smith-Shuster was the Steelers top receiver before 2020.
Smith-Shuster led the Steelers with 97 receptions and tied for the team lead with nine TD receptions in 2020, but Diontae Johnson began to emerge leading Pittsburgh with 923 receiving yards last season. Chase Claypool has also emerged as a threat and led Pittsburgh with 11 total TDs in 2020.
Kupp led the Rams in receptions and yards in 2020 but scored only three TDs. Robert Woods had a slight 129 to 124 edge over Kupp in targets last season. Johnson led Pittsburgh in targets, Boyd has a slight edge with 110 targets to 108 for Tee Higgins and 104 for Green. Lamb had 11 targets to 130 for Amari Cooper.
Cooper led Dallas in targets. In spite of the numbers, Boyd and Smith-Shuster would be considered the top receivers for their teams, Kupp essentially in a timeshare and Lamb a clear second to Cooper. All four play in different offenses with varying levels of skill from their quarterback.
The Bengals and Cowboys had to play significant portions of their 2020 seasons without their starting QBs. The returns of Joe Burrow for Cincinnati and Dak Prescott for Dallas will help their offenses in 2021. Los Angeles acquired Matthew Stafford from Detriot in the offseason to upgrade their QB play.
Ben Roethlisberger is at the end of his career and Pittsburgh does not have a player that can be considered his replacement. Burrow and Prescott are much younger than Roethlisberger and Stafford. Boyd and Lamb will be able to grow with their QBs. Boyd should remain of the best slot receivers throughout his NFL career.