The addition of Ja’Marr Chase and the body makeover of Tee Higgins are all the talk. But Boyd, perhaps the NFL’s best slot receiver, is going to be just as big for the Bengals in 2021.
Tyler Boyd has quietly become a great player. After a poor start to his second year in 2017, he caught a 49-yard touchdown on 4th and 12 in the final week of the regular season that knocked the Baltimore Ravens out of the playoffs.
After that iconic moment, Boyd has been nothing short of spectacular. He put together back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in 2018 and 2019. He could’ve made it three in a row but suffered a concussion in Week 16, ending up with 841 yards.
Though you don’t hear his name come up a lot, one can make an argument that Boyd is the best slot receiver in the league. Recently, others have taken notice. Pro Football Focus recently posted a stat that supports that idea.
Tyler Boyd has 51 slot catches of 15+ yards in the last 3 seasons
Most in the NFL pic.twitter.com/r1ltJwUMi2
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) July 6, 2021
Think he has the chance to be every bit as good as Godwin (who’s fantastic)
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) July 13, 2021
But Boyd is about so much more than the numbers. His awareness and toughness are elite. Who can forget when he fought off Tennessee Titans corner Chris Jackson then made a tough catch by turning around at the last second to clinch the game?
3rd & 9 to ice the game vs. the Titans’ cover-1. I mean c’mon pic.twitter.com/03L3zZCjrv
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) November 2, 2020
Or Week 16 of the 2019 season, when Boyd dragged himself to the line of scrimmage after suffering a hamstring injury with no timeouts and only four seconds left so the Bengals could stop the clock? His grit allowed the team to get a quick 8 points against the Miami Dolphins and go to overtime.
Them: “The Dolphins are being punished for trying to win down the stretch”
— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) April 29, 2020
In short, he is the heart and soul of a receiving corps that now features the explosive Ja’Marr Chase and emerging sophomore Tee Higgins. Chase is presumed to be quarterback Joe Burrow’s top target. And Higgins has been reshaping his body and training with the best in the business. But Boyd is still the most accomplished receiver at the professional level and the guy who will be able to get those tough third down catches over the middle when Burrow really needs someone to step up.
So don’t be surprised if Boyd continues to put up 1,000 yards, only with more touchdowns and more recognition, as the offense will be flying high after so many upgrades on offense.
In fact, as we argue in the video below, it’s really not fair to say that Boyd will be the third or even second option. As John Sheeran says, it’s more like Chase, Higgins, and Boyd are 1A, 1B, and 1C. That is a testament to their talent as well as the play style of Burrow, who has the ability to go through his progressions and take advantage of a defense by distributing the ball appropriately.
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