Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Boyd is ready to step up (PFN Film Room)

After the injury to A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd is ready to step into an even bigger role.

The Cincinnati Bengals training camp at Dayton quickly became somber after their star receiver A.J. Green fell victim to an ankle injury and was carted off the field. The subsequent MRI revealed torn ligaments in his left ankle that will sideline him six to eight weeks. Thus, all the attention turned to the complementary wide receiver, Tyler Boyd, who would now be thrust into WR1 duties.

After registering his first 1,000-yard season, Boyd is looking to step up to indeed be a top echelon receiver in this league. Until Green returns to the field (perhaps as late as a quarter of the way through the season), Boyd will be the primary pass catcher.

The film reveals that Boyd is up to the task, and arguably, was a top 20 receiver in the NFL last season with his technical ability and athleticism. The combination of technique and athleticism laid the groundwork for Boyd to burst onto the scene.

Boyd’s 70.4% catch rate was the highest of his career with the largest amount of targets (114) that he received in his career last year as well. Now, he will have to take everything he has in his arsenal and be Andy Dalton’s primary target.

Boyd’s Route Running

Boyd’s technical proficiency is evident right away with very nuanced routes and breaks. If there is a way he can beat guys in his stems, that is absolutely the way. For example, this is a simple corner route from Boyd, but it is so nuanced. He’s the inside receiver at the top of your screen.

The foot speed is the first part. There is no wasted movement off the line, and his foot speed is moving a million miles a minute. That is why the snap on the break is so quick and efficient.

Boyd has quick and effective footwork that allows him to make sharp cuts and take guys right out of their shoes. Boyd gets the strong safety, and slot cornerback turned around, confusing them. The foot speed and snap can apply to curls, comebacks, slants, and other dynamic routes that allow Boyd to gain separation and be far more dynamic than he would be otherwise. As a result, this nearly creates a touchdown.

One more thing to note is Boyd works well through the attempted bump from the slot here. His hand fighting to get those hands off of him and to not even stop his momentum is another aspect of route running. That is a trait that would suggest Boyd could separate through physicality if he needs to at the catch point.

Releases

How about we talk about separating through physicality, folks!

Tyler Boyd is in the slot here in a 2 x 2 set and the Bengals are going to clear out the upper corner so Boyd can win towards the pylon on the flat. He’s facing T.J. Watt, which is a mismatch. Watt tries to chip Boyd and mostly double presses him.

Boyd rips through the strike, and continues his route, effectively winning through the physicality of his release. He then makes a great catch laying out for this ball. That is a full extension masterpiece.

Boyd’s release below goes back to that foot speed I discussed earlier. Located at the bottom of the screen is Boyd. Notice how he chops his feet and then jabs to the outside, but the cut back inside is so quick that he can capitalize on the corner’s movements towards that jab. His slight jab is quick but effective, and then all he needs to do is accelerate up the seam and then break.

This is an excellent example of how to win off the line. Given this is Cover 1, Boyd cuts about 15 yards upfield, and Boyd then flattens it out away from the single-high. Plain and simple, the release and his footwork win this, but the nuance to flatten this out away from the single-high is indicative of high football IQ.

Football IQ

This may be what separates Boyd from a lot of guys. Some great receivers are fantastic route runners and have an expansive release set as Boyd does. However, not all of them have the top-notch football IQ that Boyd does.

The “ol’ scramble” is a classic hallmark of football IQ. Boyd does a great job of reading Dalton’s eyes and finding an open area so Dalton can make a throw to him. The ‘hop-turn’ after scanning the coverage is quick, but the explosiveness to get up the seam might be more impressive. Again, he’s located wide left in the formation.

Boyd created a window with the processing of this play. He realized it was Cover 3 and all he had to do at that point was fade up the seam since the safety was occupied towards the left side of the field.

Below Boyd is running a simple curl as the first receiver to the trips side. With the defensive tackle going into a drop zone off the line, as well as this entire underneath coverage being a spot drop zone, Boyd does a great job manipulating the linebacker. A slight step indicating that he might whip back around gets the linebacker leaning, and Boyd can now accelerate underneath the near side linebacker.

Boyd does a great job to manipulate zone defenders and create the openings for himself.

Final Thoughts

Tyler Boyd has a lot of work ahead of him to carry the Bengals passing offense on his back while A.J. Green is out. But the traits that he possesses show that not only should he be able to fill in for Green, but that he and Andy Dalton should have fantastic chemistry together as well as success.

That alone makes him a great option in fantasy leagues for the first four games, and even when Green returns, Boyd will see a sizable role. There is no reason why his ascension should not continue. Invest in Tyler Boyd, period.

Nick Farabaugh is a writer for Pro Football Network’s Film Room. Follow him on Twitter @FarabaughFB

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