Playing across from one of the greatest receivers in the NFL, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd put up solid numbers in his first year as a pro. He showed flashes of the type of toughness and clutch playmaking that the Bengals could use for the long-run. Operating mostly in the slot, Boyd took on a heavier role as a rookie than many Bengals draft picks we’ve seen in recent years, and that was certainly refreshing to see.
Boyd grabbed 54 passes (fourth most among rookies) for 603 yards (also fourth most) and one touchdown in his rookie year. He also had a very solid catch rate of 67%. But more impressive than his stats is the grit and determination he showed throughout the season.
Boyd came up with a tough catch against the New England Patriots (see here), and converted a first-and-25 in a tight game against his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers (see: here). He also just so happened to have his two best games in New England (79 yards receiving) and in Pittsburgh (78 yards receiving), perhaps the highest pressure games of the year.
Boyd also made this spectacular catch against the Philadelphia Eagles, and showed off his speed with this 40 yard run against the Cleveland Browns, displaying his dual-threat playmaking ability.
However, that run was longer than any of Boyd’s receptions, as his season long went for 30 yards. In this way, Boyd has been very much a move-the-chains type of receiver. But that’s more than fine when you’re playing on the same field as A.J. Green, a superstar receiver who defenses must account for all over the field.
Boyd operated as the Bengals’ third receiver for most of this year and as expected, led the three rookie receivers on the team in yardage and catches. Boyd is not a burner, and he doesn’t tower over opposing defensive backs, but he does understand the art of getting open. And that is a skill that he will continue to refine as he finds ways to be even more of an impact player in the league. Look for Boyd to be a major part of Cincinnati’s offense next season, whether or not the team retains Brandon LaFell. Even if LaFell, who was highly productive for the Bengals, does decide to stay, I still see Boyd surpassing him in targets in 2017, and demonstrating he is the perfect complement to Green.