Much attention has been paid to the weaknesses throughout the Buffalo Bills’ defense during the 2015 NFL season, but heading into the 2016 offseason the team will need to make upgrades along the offense as well. Under Greg Roman, wide receiver Sammy Watkins has emerged as a game-changer at the wide receiver position, but injuries suffered to Percy Harvin, Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods have exposed the lack of depth and sure talent the Bills have on their depth chart. Today, we’ll take a look at Pitt WR Tyler Boyd.
Tyler Boyd is one of the most impressive wide receivers in the 2016 NFL Draft class and is the best wideout to come out of Pitt since Larry Fitzgerald. Boyd broke many of Fitzgerald’s school records in his three seasons with the Panthers, recording 85 receptions for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with 108 yards and a score on 11 carries as a true freshman. In his three years with the Panthers, Boyd caught passes from three separate starting quarterbacks but managed to finish his career with 254 catches for 3,361 yards and 21 touchdowns, 520 yards and a score on 65 rush attempts, while averaging 24.4 yards-per-kick return on 46 attempts.
Previous Prospect Breakdowns
Tyler Boyd Size/ Athletic Ability
Tyler Boyd has decent size, standing 6’2” and weighs in around 195-200 pounds. He has a lean frame that will prevent him from being a physical presence on the boundary and he’ll struggle to consistently win in contested catch situations, however, he’s an athletic player with good speed and agility that make up for his lack of play strength.
Tyler Boyd Route Running
Tyler Boyd is arguably the best route runner in the 2016 NFL Draft class, showing the ability to create separation against upper-echelon cornerbacks while displaying some savvy, veteran-like fakes to sell his routes. Boyd doesn’t have elite long speed, but he’s a fluid runner with ridiculously quick feet that allow him to get in and out of breaks quickly, often leaving opposing cornerbacks in a trail position.
Here, Boyd is aligned in a tight split to the right of the formation against Virginia Tech, who’s showing a Cover 2 look. He gets vertical down the field before effortlessly cutting to the sideline for an easy throw and catch.
Tyler Boyd understands how to run routes against various coverages and routinely finds holes in zone coverage. In the following play against the Miami Hurricanes, Boyd is aligned to the top of the screen as the flanker. He and the slot receiver run in-routes and Boyd is able to position himself in between three defenders and make the catch before extending for a touchdown.
Boyd isn’t the strongest receiver, but he’s got a quick release and uses his hands well to get off press coverage as you can see in the next play against Iowa. At the snap, Iowa’s cornerback looks to jam him, but Boyd uses a quick side-step before getting open on a slant over the middle.
Tyler Boyd Yards-After-Catch
Tyler Boyd isn’t the most explosive athlete at the receiver position, but he’s got good enough speed to run away from defenders by wasting little motion with his strides. Here against North Carolina, Boyd takes a quick slant 50 yards to the house.
He’s capable of making acrobatic catches, but still has the mental processing to turn up field and fight for extra yards.
Boyd does a fantastic job of tracking the ball in the air and isn’t afraid of surrounding defenders, as you can see in this 55-yard touchdown against Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller on a seam route.
Tyler Boyd’s Usage
When Pitt’s running back James Connor went down with an injury, Boyd was relied on to be the entire offense. He was used as a running back, on jet sweeps, screens, etc., which is why his overall yards-per-touch numbers were down in his Junior season.
Boyd also provides value on special teams as a kick returner.
Potential Fit with Buffalo Bills
Tyler Boyd is one of the more polished wide receiver prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft and has the physical tools and play smarts to be an ideal No. 2 complementary option for any offense. He has experience lining up at both the X and Z boundary receiver positions, but saw most of his action in the slot, where his NFL future likely lies. He’s a smart receiver that runs great routes and has strong hands and plays with a smooth, confident demeanor that shows up in every game.
Player Comparison- Jeremy Maclin