After a half-decade filled with roster continuity, the Cincinnati Bengals are experiencing a bit of transition this year. Sure, some of the players have been in and out of the lineup because of injury, but most of the names the team had been relying on were with Cincinnati for a while. Wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones were two solid contributors on offense from 2012-2015, but free agency has forced the club to replace both this year.
The Bengals went with a mix of rookies and a veteran to offset the attrition, with second round pick Tyler Boyd headlining the group of newbies. According to wide receivers coach James Urban, Boyd has been impressing everyone, as relayed by Coley Harvey of ESPN.
"He's been improving every day," Urban said. "We're excited to see him and how he'll contribute to what we're going to do -- because he will. He's going to help us."
Urban also said that Boyd is exhibiting the traits they saw out of him in the scouting process. At Pitt, Boyd was known as a great route-runner who could continuously move the sticks, while occasionally popping a big play. His tape had ESPN draftniks Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay calling Boyd "silky smooth", and it sounds like he's been bringing the traits to minicamps.
"He's what I thought he was," Urban said. "He's really crafty, knows how to catch the ball, takes good angles, knows the game. He's going to have to be a technician. He's going to have to be perfect with his alignment and assignment and some of those things. And he will. We'll get him there."
The hope is that Boyd, along with free agent acquisition Brandon LaFell, will remedy the losses of Sanu and Jones. But, the truth is, the production may come by committee, being comprised of LaFell, Boyd, sixth-rounder Cody Core and others who are currently fighting for roster spots including Brandon Tate, Mario Alford, Jake Kumerow and James Wright.
Urban corroborated that notion by not labeling Boyd as the immediate No. 2 or even No. 3 receiver going into training camp. While it seems likely that it will end up playing out that way, the rookie will need to continue to improve and show he's just as reliable as the veterans in the group. If he does, he'll also be able to achieve another part of his role, which is to take defensive attention off of A.J. Green.
And while there is a hint of uncertainty in the group with LaFell's peak-and-valley production from 2014 to 2015 and the inexperience of others, Urban also recently talked about his excitement about the group and how they're competing. There's a lot to play out over the next couple of months, but Boyd will be a key to the offense this year, regardless of where he lands on the depth chart.