When the Bengals selected Tyler Boyd with their second round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, everyone knew that a lot would be asked of him in the wake of departures from key former Bengals wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. If there was any surprise at the selection, it was probably only that the Bengals didn’t make more of an effort to take a receiver earlier in the draft.
Ever since the selection, the Bengals and their fans have been itching to see just what Boyd is capable of. He got his first chance to show off his skills in live game action on Friday as the Bengals hosted the Minnesota Vikings for their preseason opener. Although he only recorded a single catch while on the field, the reps he got and the experience he gained will be invaluable for his career going forward.
“You know what? It felt real good inside to get that NFL experience,” Boyd said after the game. “I try to go out there and just go and do what I was coached to do throughout minicamp and training camp. I feel confident in myself, so when I went out there and made that big play, I knew things were paying off.”
Of course, the highlight of Boyd’s night was a 40 yard reception thrown by AJ McCarron near the end of the second quarter.
“He did a great job of tracking the ball and making a good play on it,” McCarron said. “I just liked him, liked my matchup and took it. That’s what he does – he makes plays.”
The reception lit a spark in the Bengals’ offense, leading to the team’s only offensive points of the game two plays later when Alex Erickson caught a three-yard pass from McCarron to tie the game up 7-7. That said, it wasn’t the only valuable experience that Boyd gained during the game. He lined up in multiple spots, from out wide to the slot, throughout the day to maximize his playing experience.
We also learned that the concerns about his speed in relation to the deep passing game might potentially be an actual point of concern. Granted, the one bomb route that they tried to test him with saw McCarron put up a dangerously underthrown ball his way. But, it seems fair to say that Boyd didn’t get much separation on the play anyway. This was a play that just seemed destined to fail from the beginning.
In addition to lining up in multiple receiver spots, the Bengals decided to test Boyd out at another position of need as well. He lined up as a punt returner once and actually looked to put together a pretty good effort, returning the ball 14 yards before being tackled at the 22.
Unfortunately, Cody Core was called for holding on the play and the Bengals ended up starting the subsequent drive at their own 7-yard line. But, Boyd was able to showcase his ability to recognize lanes and pick the best spot to run. His return was overshadowed later by a touchdown return by Erickson, but that doesn’t take away from the positives from this particular play.
So far, it seems like Boyd isn’t having much trouble fitting in with the Bengals’ offensive scheme. If you ask him, his ability to contribute to the offense and build a great rapport with his teammates is what this part of the season is all about.
“It’s always good to have a lot of playmakers around you because it will make the guys around you better,” Boyd said. “So we love to compete with each other but at the same time, we’ve got to keep each other up, keep each other in tune with what’s happening in the game and let everybody know what they’re doing well.”
With his good play backed up by a great attitude and great teammates, expect to hear more of Boyd’s name in the immediate future. This rookie looks like he could be special.