When Bengals legend Isaac Curtis stepped to the podium in Chicago to announce the Bengals’ second round pick in the 2016 draft, he said “Tyler Boyd” and then hesitated before adding his position.
Perhaps he was considering how many to mention.
Boyd is a wide receiver, but in three years at the University of Pittsburgh he could have been listed on the roster as a “Swiss Army Knife” as Tyler caught 254 passes, ran the ball 63 times, returned 73 kicks or punts, and even completed 3 out of 4 passes.
“I feel like I can help the team a lot with my athleticism,” said Boyd. “I believe they can move me all around the field to create mismatches.”
“You got a chance to see him do a lot of different things because they got it to him a lot of different ways – handing it to him, throwing it to him, and he got to throw the ball,” said offensive coordinator Ken Zampese. “You got to see everything that the guy has which is nice to know. Sometimes you don’t always get to see all of those things. So we have a good idea of what he is and we have a pretty good idea of where we can take him.”
“There are Sanu-esque things in the versatility that he provides,” said receivers coach James Urban.
Like former Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu, Boyd does not have blazing speed as he was timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Pitt’s pro day. But that did not prevent him from breaking Larry Fitzgerald’s school records for career receptions and receiving yards (3,361).
“I think he’s got competitive speed,” said Zampese. “You wouldn’t look at his timed speed and say, ‘Wow, he’s going to run by that guy all the time.’ Those numbers don’t bear that out, but when he plays, he competes and he’s productive with the skill set that he has.”
“He does a great job of using his body to create separation,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “He’s great with the ball in his hands and seems to understand the game very well.”
With the free agent departures of Sanu and Marvin Jones, Boyd will have the opportunity to play a significant role as a rookie.
“Tyler has a chance to come in and compete to play,” said Lewis. “We’ve got some guys in the building who feel like they want those opportunities as well.”
“He strikes me as a guy that can play the slot early, and learn the outside spot and be productive out there as we go,” said Zampese.
“I feel like I’m capable of playing in the slot or outside,” said Boyd. “They can move me around a lot. Or even line me up in the backfield so I can get mismatches with linebackers.”
The 21-year-old was raised in the Pittsburgh area and helped his high school team win four state championships before attending Pitt. It’s no surprise to learn that his favorite NFL team is the Bengals’ biggest rival.
“I definitely rooted for the Steelers,” Boyd said with a laugh. “That’s my hometown team. But at the end of the day, I’m going to sacrifice myself to the team that picked me and would rather have me. So I’m going to have to completely go at the Steelers and cause them all hell.”
If not hell, Boyd can at least cause headaches for opposing defenses by giving Andy Dalton another versatile and dependable weapon.
“We think we got a good football player and we’re going to find ways to take advantage of his skill set and we think it’s a good fit,” said Urban.
“He’s certainly not a finished product, but he’s ours and we like him,” said Zampese. “We’re going to drag him and push him and make him compete and drive him to where we think he can be.”
“I can’t wait to start the next chapter in my life,” said Boyd. “I’m really happy and appreciative that the Cincinnati Bengals chose a great player like myself.
“I was waiting around just waiting for that call. No matter what team picked me I was going to be really happy and grateful and just celebrate with my family. I’ve got about 30 people at a hotel to celebrate with me and it’s one of the happiest days of my life.”
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