The Cincinnati Bengals haven't seen as big of a transition at the wide receiver position as they have experienced this year since the 2011 roster turnover. Of course, at that point in time, the team was replacing its top two receivers, whereas in 2016 they are replacing their No. 2 and No. 3 spots. Both concern and optimism surround the receiver position this year.
While the team isn't relying as heavily on second round rookie Tyler Boyd this year as they did with A.J. Green in 2011, he still will play a major role in the offense keeping the momentum that was built in 2015. A question we received for this week's mailbag revolves around Boyd's role in the immediate and long-term future.
@CincyJungle Do you or the Bengals see Tyler Boyd staying in the slot long term? Or is it more so he can play right away— Jacob Burlingame (@jacobburlingame) June 3, 2016
One of the things the Bengals do that many other squads in the NFL don't, is maximize their roster spots with the players they carry. How they do so is in keeping the most versatile players possible, and we're not talking just at wide receiver or on solely on the offensive side of the ball. On defense, safety and the defensive line are examples, as some of the players they have shift around or are interchangeable.
In my opinion, Boyd was brought in as a replacement for Mohamed Sanu, not Marvin Jones. Boyd doesn't seem to have the long outside speed Jones brought to the team, but that also doesn't mean he isn't capable of big plays on the outside, either. The coaches have said they think he can play both in the slot and outside, so, at least in the immediate future, he'll dabble in both.
Have a look at this college highlight reel where Boyd makes some big catches from the outside, while also contributing in the slot.
Now have a look at some of Sanu's highlights over the years with the Bengals and compare. (Editor's note: our apologies for some language used in the music provided in this video.)
Carries from the backfield and pass attempts aside, Sanu's role from 2012-2015 should be one Boyd steps into in the short and long-term. I think we'll see a lot of the same chain-moving slants and bubble screens early in his career, as both an effort to find a rhythm with Andy Dalton and ease Boyd into the NFL. To answer our reader's question, I think Boyd is a long-term slot guy who can still pop a big play lining up outside.
No one is sure that Brandon LaFell is the long-term answer at wideout opposite of Green, but the consensus right now, especially if looking at the contract he received from the team, is that he's a band-aid for 2016. Plans for Boyd are far more extensive with the club, but he will need to show maturity beyond his years.
As a rookie, Sanu had four receiving touchdowns, but just 16 total catches for 154 yards, while Jones had just 18 catches for 201 yards and one touchdown that same season. Boyd needs to have more than that in 2016 if the Bengals want to be a solid offense again, and last week, I projected him to far surpass the rookie numbers of his predecessors. Given the way the Bengals will look to use him and his slightly better speed than Sanu's, I think he'll be a solid producer in the Bengals' offense.
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